Football: Norwich put up little defence

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The Independent Online
Southampton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Norwich City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

TEN DAYS ago it was Villa and yesterday it was Norwich whose championship chances were put in a negative perspective by a visit to The Dell. Southampton are, indeed, a hard team to play against, but Norwich rarely looked in it. They can hardly have put in a worse performance all season and are in severe need of the two new players that their manager, Mike Walker, is talking of buying.

Walker felt that bad luck and not bad play prevented his side from progressing to second position in the League, but there is no doubt that at least one of his proposed purchases will have to be a defender. The number of goals they have conceded - 41 - tells its own story and last night the Canaries' defensive fallibilities were on show for all to see.

Caught square, caught slow, caught dwelling on the ball, caught out regularly by an attack that is lively but only mediocre, Walker was being lenient on his players when he said they were largely beyond criticism.

The result was that it took no time for Southampton to stamp their authority on the game: all the early exchanges went their way and they could well have scored in the second minute when the unchallenged Jason Dodd, put through by Matthew Le Tissier and Tommy Widdrington, fired wide.

Dodd's shot was followed by two efforts from Le Tissier, a speculative lob from Micky Adams and then a cracking long-range shot from Widdrington that had Bryan Gunn stretching to the full.

Adams sent the ball in fast and low from the resulting corner and no one could keep out Richard Hall's glancing header. But it was a soft goal - defensive marking and Gunn's positioning appeared to be at fault.

There was no let-up for Norwich, who had not constructed an attack of note by the 25th minute when the score was doubled. There was a fair dose of luck in Southampton's second - Le Tissier's pass took two deflections and when it rolled to Adams everyone stopped, suspecting offside. Adams, totally unmarked eight yards out, fired home.

For a period of the second half Norwich moved up a gear but thanks to Tim Flowers, in the Southampton goal, their fight came to nothing.

At the other end Norwich's defence was caught terribly square, Dowie putting an easy ball through to the substitute, Nicky Banger, who was left totally clear to shoot past Gunn. The goal arrived with 12 minutes to go, and from then on Southampton ran rampant.

Neil Maddison hit the crossbar, Banger had two more shots on goal, and Norwich were powerless to prevent the rout.

Southampton: Flowers; Kenna, Adams, Widdrington, Hall, Monkou, Le Tissier (Banger, 70), Dodd, Dowie, Maddison, Benali. Substitutes not used: Powell, Andrews (gk).

Norwich: Gunn; Culverhouse, Bowen, Butterworth, Polston, Megson, Goss, Power, Robins (Sutch, 75), Fox, Phillips. Substitutes not used: Johnson, Walton (gk).

Referee: J Worrall (Warrington).

Derby County, who had lost their previous nine League games at the Baseball Ground, beat Barnsley 3-0 at home last night to relieve the pressure on their manager, Arthur Cox.