Football: Sutton's salvage

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The Independent Online
Norwich City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Sutton 90

Sheffield Wednesday. . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Watson 75

Attendance: 18,311

ONCE again their native East Anglian air proved almost too much for Norwich. Another failure in front of their home fans was only averted when Chris Sutton cracked home a 90th-minute equaliser in a scenario of almost pantomime proportions. The Norwich goalkeeper, Bryan Gunn, had left his goal to make his height available in the Wednesday penalty box for a corner. In the ensuing scramble Gunn actually managed a shot before the ball broke to Sutton, whose job it is, after all, to score the goals.

The substitute Gordon Watson's 75th-minute goal for Wednesday had stunned the Canaries, who were still recovering from the fright when David Hirst's 50th-minute shot had rattled Gunn's crossbar. For the goal, Carlton Palmer showed Ian Crook a clean pair of heels as he galloped to the left touchline before squaring for Watson to hit the net after Mark Bowen had blocked Hirst's shot.

As Norwich struggled to save the day, their efforts found a fresh level of frenzy which caused Andy Pearce and Des Walker more concern than their earlier neat and thoughtful movements. Gunn's late dash to join his forwards was part of that frenzy.

The attractive and fluent football both sides produced in a goalless first half tended to splutter for the lack of a decisive finishing touch. Pearce was visibly respectful of Sutton from the kick-off but it took more than respect to thwart the Norwich striker as early as the 17th minute when Graham Hyde deflected a Gunn clearance into Sutton's path. His flick beyond the out-rushing Kevin Pressman was too strong, however, and the ball drifted tantalisingly past the wrong side of the post.

That Pearce's respect was not misplaced was underlined in the 25th minute when Sutton's precise header landed gently on Jeremy Goss's left boot, but the shot was scooped high over from less than six yards. Palmer nearly brought a fitting climax to a five-man passing movement, and his forays into the Norwich penalty area were Wednesday's main threat. At the other end several timely Pearce tackles scotched promising movements towards Pressman, but the keeper himself had to spring to clutch Sutton's 35th-minute header.

In that last 15 minutes of frantic football, Wednesday survived a fervent penalty appeal when Pearce sent Sutton sprawling and Efan Ekoku drew two splendid saves from Pressman to emphasise his credentials as possibly England's coming goalkeeper.

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