Brammer saves the day

Norwich City 2 Crewe Alexandra 2
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The Independent Football

The romantic script would have permitted Dario Gradi a victory on his 1,000th game in charge of Crewe, but the draw was the next best thing and it was secured with four minutes remaining as midfielder Dave Brammer punished more loose Norwich defending.

Both the Football League and the host club made presentations before the start to record Gradi's achievement in avoiding the dismissal notice that almost every manager knows is his future somewhere down the line. City's generosity extended to granting Crewe an early lead and it set the tone for an entertaining evening.

Four goals was by some way a meagre return considering that both attacks were given scope to dominate their respective penalty areas. Norwich should have had more to show than Marc Libbra's pair of well-taken goals, but their rearguard work was never adequate for a team hoping to return to third place.

They allowed David Walton room to put away a sixth minute header after Kenny Lunt had measured his cross and then showed the threat they carry themselves eight minutes later as Iwan Roberts headed down for Libbra to grab his first.

That goal arose from Mark Rivers' hanging centre and the former Crewe man was clearly intent on proving a point, coming close on two occasions before the interval.

Norwich needed that insurance because Crewe refused to be overwhelmed, promising to regain the lead when Lunt unleashed a lusty, 20-yard drive. Home goalkeeper Robert Green did well to block the shot and then hurried to scramble away the loose ball before anyone noticed that it might have crossed the line.

Five minutes into the second half Libbra nudged his team towards the win they craved after successive defeats, first to react after a Roberts' header goalwards had taken a deflection off a defender. Shortly after that the Welshman struck a post as Libbra repaid the favour, but the last word went to Brammer with a close-range finish and, inevitably, Gradi.

He called it a "super day", one of many since he checked into Gresty Road in June 1983, though the most pleasure was to be had from his side's assured performance. "Sometimes in the old Fourth Division days I used to think, 'Is this the best you can do, Dario?' but when they play like that I can justify my existence in the business."

Norwich City (4-4-2): Green; Nedergaard, Fleming, Mackay, Drury; Rivers (Kenton, 71), Mulryne, Holt, McVeigh; Roberts, Libbra (Notman, 78). Substitutes not used: Crichton (gk), Llewellyn, Sutch.

Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): Bankole; Wright, Walton, Foster, Smith; Lunt, Brammer, Thomas (Rix, 85) Charnock; Hulse, Ashton. Substitutes not used: Ince (gk), Sodje, Sorvel, Jones.

Referee: F Stretton (Nottingham)

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