Football: Norwich denied right return

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The Independent Online
Norwich City . . . .0

West Ham United. . .0

THE CONQUERING heroes of Munich were suitably hailed on their return to Carrow Road and then singularly failed to rub out their West Ham visitors, who came determined to remind us that an intelligent passing game has deep roots in the English game beyond the confines of East Anglia.

The outcome was 90 minutes of splendid, if goalless, entertainment for both connoisseur and punter - fluent midfield play, intelligent running, plenty of goalmouth incident, including excellent goalkeeping. At the death it was Bryan Gunn's lunging dive to touch Lee Chapman's shot past the post that prevented those Munich victory garlands finding a home in a dustbin.

The Hammers almost knocked the garlands badly askew as early as the second minute when Matthew Holmes slipped through a laggardly Norwich defence only to muff the chance when confronted by Gunn. Nonplussed, Norwich flowed sweetly down on Ludek Miklosko for Ian Crook to take deliberate aim with a 25-yard shot which had the Czech keeper stretching to tip over.

Miklosko came close to creating a goal minutes later when his long clearance gave Trevor Morley the edge on a confused Ian Butterworth. The striker weakly lobbed the fast advancing Gunn but Rob Newman swept away the danger.

The Norwich goalkeeper's sure clutch of a Morley shot in the 34th minute was the end of his first-half exertions, while Crook began to find his range and accuracy. He did so to perfection a minute before half- time when Gary Megson connected with a fine header. Miklosko's stop was hardly gracious but it was effective.

West Ham's determination to match their hosts pass for pass did occasionally end in the long ball. A couple of times Chapman was only inches away but it was a dash by Morley in the 78th minute that almost broke the stalemate, the shot rattling Gunn's right-hand post after the striker had wrestled clear of Newman. Morley again, with an effortless turn and volley five minutes from time, caused Norwich alarm until Gunn's lunging dive touched the ball past the post.

The dominating influence had been the perception and accuracy of Crook's final ball, although there were occasions when Ian Culverhouse displayed that he, too, is no slouch at sending accurate, long passes into areas where the damage is done. Ruel Fox was the main target for most of this service and twice in the second half only a hurried shot and a brilliant interception by Steve Potts saved the Hammers' blushes.

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