A step too far… It’s the headline that was always going to accompany this article. The question many were asking before the game. Had Norwich continued their impressive recent form it would have been proceeded by ‘- not a chance!’. As it was, the pre-match concerns were proved well-founded. City put the effort in. But they were given a schooling by an experienced Derby side. And no favours at all from a shocking referee.
No reserves to call on
As at Arsenal, where, in the absence of quality reserves, pretty much the entire first team played 120 gruelling minutes; here it was energy reserves that were missing.
City just ran out of steam. Two massive games in the preceding week resulting in a tired performance. The efforts in the derby would have sapped most teams’ energy. To follow it with the intensity shown in the elongated game at the Emirates was impressive. Repeating the trick here almost impossible, even with the team at super fit ‘machine like’ levels.
Going again on Tuesday?.. I say be thankful Wolves played 120 minutes in the week too. Expect goals at the the Carra as two tired sides meet.
A comfortable defeat…
Having controlled the first half – Marco Stierpermann adding one more entry to his personal collection of missed chances, Josh Murphy being denied a clear penalty – the sucker punch came in injury time through David Nugent.
Earlier in the game my comrades in the upper Barclay tried to come up with a centre back pairing we felt as comfortable with as Klose and Zimmermann (Mackay and Fleming the eventual outcome, with some debate over Turner and Bassong’s first season as a curve ball option). Then, as quickly as the debate had finished, our German number 6 missed his interception and City headed into the break one down.
In the second half, Derby had a lead to protect and did so in increasingly comfortable fashion until unlikely scorer Timm Klose nodded home Stiepermann’s delightful cross. Earlier in the half the German had added the latest miss to his catalogue, so that assist was much enjoyed.
Oliveira’s withdrawal with a calf injury shortly after the restart spelled the beginning of the end. Had it been 5 minutes later, Farke would surely have made his third change of the afternoon a defensive one. But coming straight after the equalising goal, his hand was forced. Marley Watkins on. City wide open. Bradley Johnson played in. Save by Gunn. Rebound turned in by Sam Winnell. Game over. Goodbye unbeaten run.
Who put the ball in the Ipswich net?
Before I lament the performance of the referee, and Farke’s decision to play an entire first team in north London, it would be wrong not to mention the professionalism and accomplished performance of the Derby side.
They showed how to harry City’s backline, denying them the time to pick the simple passes they enjoy. I don’t like David Nugent (any city fan at Carrow Road for Portsmouth’s visit in December 2010 will know why), but he is tailor made to play the role he did on Saturday.
Likewise Chris Martin – a Championship brawler if ever there was one. Oh to have him back at NR1 as an option from the bench…
The other ex- Norwich star (Andre Wisdom doesn’t even deserve this mention) in the Derby team also had a good game. Bradley Johnson will always be a hero to me for that goal against that lot from down the road, and it was nice to clap him on his Carrow Road return.
We’ll always love you Bradders, you’re welcome back anytime (even if you did leave your foot in on poor Tom Trybull!). Hopefully mssrs Ruddy and Bennett will enjoy their returns a little less though.
Referee, you’re having a laugh
So, on to the referee. I’m not going to dedicate much to this. But the decision not to award a penalty following Scott Carson’s ‘tackle’ on Josh Murphy was abysmal. Even criminal given the vast sums of money resting on these results.
What I will say is, if it were a Grant Holt or a Darren Huckerby it would definitely have been given as a penalty. To be a top player Josh needs to learn the dark arts those two had. The talent’s there, now it needs to be fulfilled.
As to whether Farke should have played a weakened team at Arsenal. Well, how would you feel if you were James Maddison and you were denied the chance of playing one of the best teams in the country? Bravo for trying to win the game Herr Farke, I say. Bravo.
For not recruiting another striker in the summer less so. Address this in January and we have a chance of the play offs. Don’t, and you can forget it.
Unless Stierpermann finds his shooting boots. Starting on Tuesday maybe?..