Towering Holt and Morison dominate Newcastle's little big men in six-goal thriller
Norwich City 4 Newcastle United 2
Sunday 11 December 2011
Height has its benefits. In the era of Lionel Messi and David Silva, the simple utility of tall players over short ones can be written off or ignored. Not so yesterday at Carrow Road, where the hulking but ever-so-slightly pre-modern pair of Grant Holt and Steve Morison confronted Newcastle's make-shift and miniature centre-backs Danny Simpson and James Perch. Holt and Morison scored three headers between them in a 4-2 win.
Alan Pardew said that his side could not expect to concede from three set plays and avoid defeat. In open play his team were competitive and classy, with Demba Ba scoring two excellent goals, taking his season's tally to 11. But the injuries to Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor left Pardew's team "stretched to the limit".
"If the ball's there to be won, the lads have got a great desire to get a head on it. It's not rocket science," Norwich's manager Paul Lambert said after his team had moved into ninth. "Holt and Morison were excellent."
Wes Hoolahan, their best and shortest player was the catalyst. As he lifted the tempo, the Norwich full-backs got involved.
Kyle Naughton's cross was blocked by Davide Santon's outstretched arm but Martin Atkinson rejected the penalty appeal. "I thought the only thing he'd ever done was catch it," Lambert said. "It was a penalty."
A cross though brought the opening goal. Marc Tierney slung in an outswinger, which Tim Krul caught as it curled back towards the pitch. However a corner was given, following which Hoolahan shinned the ball in. "Tim just caught it where it was," Pardew said. "He didn't take it out."
Newcastle equalised when Yohan Cabaye chipped a delightful through ball to Ba who controlled it and clipped beyond John Ruddy.
The game was there to be won, and up stepped the home team's pair of robust centre-forwards. Fourteen minutes into the second half, David Fox played a short corner, and crossed the return pass. Holt saw his header saved by Krul but nodded the follow-up in off the bar.
Four minutes later, another cross, and another header, made it 3-1. Dan Gosling gifted the ball to Andrew Crofts, whose centre was converted with remarkable neck strength by Morison. Just two minutes after that a frustrated Gosling badly fouled Russell Martin and was sent off.
But even with 10 men Newcastle still had quality, pulling one back soon after. Zak Whitbread was robbed by Shola Ameobi, who played a through ball to Ba, whose touch and finish were even better than his first.
But just when a comeback felt possible, Norwich's simple advantages of numbers and height reasserted themselves. James Perch conceded a free-kick on Hoolahan. Bradley Johnson crossed and Holt, inevitably, towered above Perch and Simpson to score his second.
Norwich (4-3-1-2): Ruddy; Naughton, Martin, Whitbread (Barnett, 83), Tierney; Crofts, Fox, Surman (Johnson, 76); Hoolahan (Jackson, 84); Holt, Morison.
Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; R Taylor, Simpson, Perch, Santon; Obertan (Sammy Ameobi, 81), Cabaye, Gosling, Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi (Smith, 90), Ba.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Hoolahan (Norwich)
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