Cardiff city visited Norwich sitting 2nd in the Championship table, with Norwich 3rd only by goal difference, so this match was guaranteed to be a blinder!
Saturdays game saw Lambert make several changes from last weeks loss to Orient, with loanee Lansbury back in the squad along with Ruddy, Holt and Crofts. It also marked the return of former Norwich favourite, Craig Bellamy, who was captaining for Cardiff.
The high expectations were fair as it only took 7 minutes before the deadlock was broken, through new signing Jon Parkin. The giant striker, whose physicality caused problems for Norwich all day, struck in a half volley from the edge of the area after a good flick from Chopra.
Norwich reacted positively though as right-back Russell Martin put his shot wide, followed by a terrific curling effort from David Fox hit the bar from 30 yards out.
The home team continued to pile on the pressure as Croft’s header was saved by Tom Heaton. Moments later Norwich were denied a penalty as Captain Grant Holt skinned Paul Quinn, only to be brought down, but the referee waved play-on, in which Hoolahan had an effort saved by Heaton.
A Fox free-kick was met by the head of Barnett who could only head over the bar, before Bellamy had a shot for his 150th career goal, but fired straight at Ruddy.
Norwich fans went mental (including me) on 30 minutes as the ball hit the back of the net after Chris Martin’s shot was parried by Heaton and Grant Holt cleared it up, however he was offside and the game started to feel like it was just never going to go our way.
The second half started how it ended- Norwich in control. Drury started the ball rolling for Norwich with a pin-point cross, met by the head of Russell Martin who failed to direct it.
It was nail biting stuff when Chopra had a clear view on goal, who was only denied by an outstretched Ruddy, then at the other end Holt’s turn and shot was comfortably saved by Heaton.
Ruddy then made a brilliant one-on-one save diving at the feet of former Newcastle man Chopra. Wilbraham was then brought on and had an shot from 18 yards saved and then a curling shot was put wide of the post.
The game continued to stretch the play from end to end, with substitue Chris Burke’s free-kick being saved by Ruddy, who performed superbly all day, but just as it seemed Cardiff had done enough up popped Russell Martin at the back post to smash the ball into the net at an awkward angle, in off the crossbar.
It was a thrilling game and I really enjoyed being part of this tight game. I have never shouted so much when Norwich scored, but I am regretting it a little today with a sore throat still.
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