Blunt Hammers need Carroll spark while Norwich goals grind to a Holt
Norwich City 0 West Ham United 0
Saturday 15 September 2012
Both these teams must know that without goals they will not be in the Premier League next season. West Ham, though, have the comfort of Andy Carroll to come back from injury. Norwich's own imposing line-leader, Grant Holt, is fit in only a nominal sense.
Both sides lacked the necessary incisiveness to win this game. Norwich, with a midfield wholly comfortable on the ball, played better football but did not have enough up front. "When we have our opportunities, we have to be showing a bit more quality and guile, perhaps also a bit of fortune in that final third," Chris Hughton said afterwards. "But I'd be more concerned if we did not create chances."
In four league games so far, including Queens Park Rangers at home, Norwich have scored only twice. Holt, the battering-ram captain, seems to have lost most of his fire since he won his three-year contract from the club in the summer. He scored 15 in the league last season but the ferocity, the power and the willingness to risk himself were missing here.
Hughton allowed Holt a generous 71 minutes before replacing him with on-loan Harry Kane. Steve Morison, who came on a little earlier for Simeon Jackson, was a quick improvement. The manager insists Holt's goalscoring will return. "He has been very focused on the games and in training," he said. "I have seen the same desire in him that he has always shown here."
West Ham, with no Carroll, had to rely for a leader of the line on Carlton Cole, who lacked the confidence and therefore the presence needed for their game-plan. Cole's sole contribution was a tame header before he was withdrawn for Modibo Maiga. "The minute we can get Carroll back we will," Sam Allardyce, West Ham's manager, said.
"I am satisfied with the point. Our finishing wasn't as good as it should have been. Our final ball wasn't as good as it should have been. But Chris [Hughton] might say the same. But it's a good point."
He was also pleased with a third clean sheet in four games, and it was a more robust performance than their last away game, a bad 3‑0 defeat at Swansea City. At least Matt Jarvis brought some energy to Allardyce's side when he came on in the second half.
Hughton's midfield certainly shows enough quality to create goals. One clever run from Bradley Johnson led to a free-kick which Robert Snodgrass hit into the wall. Soon after, the Scotland international had the first of a five-shot rally which Jussi Jaaskelainen and defenders managed to repel.
The closest the first half came to a goal was with four minutes left. Andrew Surman, the smartest player of the half, danced past Guy Demel before being cut down on the line of the penalty area by Collins. Johnson drove the free-kick into the wall.
Norwich started the second half at a better tempo but were largely restricted to shots from distance. Jaaskelainen saved from Simeon Jackson and Johnson before catching Leon Barnett's goal-bound header.
When Morison came on he slapped a shot over the bar. Kane curled a shot wide. In the final seconds, Snodgrass set Kane up but the weak shot was easily saved, and Jaaskelainen saved again from Snodgrass in added time.
"There can be disappointment we have not got the goals to win the game," Hughton said, "but no one can question the endeavour of the players."
Norwich City (4-4-2) Ruddy; Martin, Barnett, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, Johnson, Howson, Surman; Holt (Kane, 71), Jackson (Morison, 64).
West Ham United (4-1-4-1) Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O'Brien; Noble; Vaz Te (Benayoun, 86), Nolan, Diame, Taylor (Jarvis, 56); Cole (Maiga, 56).
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Snodgrass
Match rating: 5/10
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