Football: Sutch directs advance

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The Independent Online
Norwich City. . . . . . . .2

Queen's Park Rangers. . . .1

NORWICH have traditionally been noted for eschewing the direct route. When they played a friendly in Romania last week, they travelled by car (private), plane (modern), plane (bouncy), coach (without suspension), boat (Danube) and coach (with suspension) just to reach Otelul Galati's ground. Such passages, like their passing, are anything but Route One.

But under Mike Walker, Norwich have learned to mix up their styles, adding the long to the short with the efficiency of Nick Faldo. Opposition defences, so used to Norwich playing their way forward, have been slow to come to terms with this new threat of the well-directed, swiftly executed long ball.

Twice the Rangers stopper, Darren Peacock, was caught out by long passes from the excellent Daryl Sutch to Chris Sutton, two emerging East Anglian talents capped at England Under-21 level.

This ability to vary the focus of the attack from the foreground to the horizon was the difference between two passing units, who produced a game at Carrow Road which was almost Continental in its emphasis on technique in the first half, but positively British in its relentless tempo and plethora of chances in the second.

Sutch's precision turned the match. Picking up the ball on the right hand side of his own half in the 53rd minute, Sutch drilled the ball 50 yards forward for Sutton to chase. Peacock was always struggling to get on the right side and succeeded only in bringing the Norwich striker down. Mark Bowen converted the penalty with ease.

Eleven minutes later the Sutch- Sutton axis paid off again. Sutch swung the ball over from the right and Sutton, having given Peacock the slip, headed home magnificently. 'The boss is always telling me to make the sort of runs in the box that Gary Lineker did, losing your marker and finding space,' Sutton said.

Walker believes that Sutton, who has had stints at centre-half as well as centre-forward, will eventually settle down as a defender but his flexibility has improved his game in both positions. 'If I'm at the back I learn about being a striker from marking players like Niall Quinn and Mick Harford,' Sutton added.

Rangers raised their pace after Sutton's goal but if the officials had been sharper-eyed the visitors' task would not have been so great. Five minutes before Norwich's second, Ian Culverhouse, the Canaries full- back, volleyed Dennis Bailey's cross past Bryan Gunn and on to the underside of the bar. It bounced down and crossed the line before spinning clear. Dermot Gallagher, the referee in the Gordon Durie 'cheat' case, waved play on, but video replays confirmed a goal should have been awarded.

Bradley Allen, another of Lawrie McMenemy's promising Under- 21s, halved the deficit with a cool piece of finishing but with Bryan Gunn saving everything else that came his way, Norwich duly returned to the top of the Premier League, boasting the best home record. A group of fans sang 'Bye, Bye Blackburn'. But for how long?

Goals: Bowen pen (53) 1-0; Sutton (64) 2-0; Allen (77) 2-1.

Norwich City: Gunn; Culverhouse, Bowen, Butterworth, Polston, Sutch, Crook, Phillips, Robins (Power, 74), Goss, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Newman, Walton (gk).

Queen's Park Rangers: Stejskal; Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Peacock, McDonald, Impey, Holloway, Bailey, Penrice (Allen, 67), Sinton (Maddix, 82). Substitute not used: T Roberts (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).