Football: Phillips atones for egg on face

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Crystal Palace. . .1

Norwich City. . . .2

FOR NORWICH'S David Phillips, it was a curate's egg of a match. The bad parts were horrid, but the good parts so very very good that they not only saved his bacon but secured the Canaries' second away win of the season and kept his team firmly in touch with the leaders.

Phillips has long been renowned as one of the sweetest strikers of a ball in the land. Jimmy Case probably used to hit it harder and Glenn Hoddle with more elegance. But just like those tyros of old, you can be sure that when Phillips finds the net, the goal alone will be worth the price of admission.

So when Ian Crook slipped a delicious early ball into Phillips's stride in the 17th minute, the Norwich contingent held their breath in anticipation of a net-bursting strike arrowed past Nigel Martyn's cranium like a Waqar Younis bouncer. Not a bit of it. Phillips made a nonsense of the shot and the ball seemed to be bouncing harmlessly wide when Lee Power, standing in for the injured Mark Robins, raced into the six-yard box to head past Palace's stranded keeper.

If Phillips was embarrassed, it showed. Three minutes later he turned up inside his own penalty area and made a complete hash of an attempt to clear Mark Bright's near-post header. The ball fell to Eddie McGoldrick who was left with the simplest of tasks to register his third goal of the season.

As Palace pressed hard to capitalise on their equaliser, Phillips wisely sought the refuge of the touchline and left centre stage to Bryan Gunn. Norwich, with their tradition of passing football, are one of the sides most disadvantaged by the new back pass rule and were indebted to their keeper for keeping them in the game. Outstanding saves, from Dean Gordon and Bright twice, rescued a defence consistently caught out by Palace's more muscular approach.

Steve Coppell has spoken out over the need for a transfer moratorium, and the Premier League supremo, Rick Parry, agrees with the Palace manager's complaint that 'it is increasingly difficult for a manager to manage'. Even so, Coppell has done wonders with limited resources, bringing on bit-part players like Gareth Southgate, Chris Coleman and Gordon. When this unsung trio combined to produce the game's best move, Gordon beat Gunn with a cleverly manufactured header but the ball grazed the bar and dropped to safety.

Re-enter Phillips. With 16 minutes to go, Power sent over a deep cross from the right and the Norwich No 11 took off to crack the most glorious volley back past Martyn and into the far corner. Old Thunderboots was back.

Crystal Palace: N Martyn; J Humphrey (S Osborn, 78 min), L Sinnott, G Southgate, E Young, A Thorn, C Coleman (J Salako, 60 min), G Thomas, M Bright, D Gordon, E McGoldrick. Substitute not used: P Heald (gk). Manager: S Coppell.

Norwich City: B Gunn; I Culverhouse, M Bowen, I Butterworth, C Sutton, G Megson, I Crook, R Newman, L Power, J Goss (D Sutch, 67 min), D Phillips. Substitutes not used: C Woodthorpe, M Walton (gk). Manager: M Walker.

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

Goals: Power (0-1, 17 min), McGoldrick (1-1, 20 min), Phillips (1-2, 74 min).

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