Saturday 13th February 2016 – Thurlow Nunn Premier Division
Norwich United 1 Godmanchester Rovers 2
Goals: Bowen, Hyem
Match Report by Matt Haniver
On a run of 4 successive away wins in a row, we sensed that the group went into this game knowing that if we performed that we would win the game.
Going to the champions is the acid test. And as the league suggests, if you can avoid defeat against Norwich you will be one of very few teams who do.
With injuries to centre backs Moran and Groves, we switched skipper Taylor Parr to the heart of the defence with Jordan Traynior coming into midfield for his debut after signing in the week.
To say that we were good in the opening 30 minutes would be an understatement. With a stiff breeze at our backs we tore into the home side and had already had efforts at goal before CHARLIE BOWEN brilliantly hooked a volley into the far corner following a Diaper cross on 4 minutes.
It was a wonderful finish and the celebration was one of relief and delight for Charlie as he hasn’t scored as many in recent months as he perhaps he should given his presence from set plays. Having said this, he has been incredible this season and was a tower of strength again for us.
Diaper and Yambasu had efforts blocked and saved before MICKY HYEM scrambled a second after good work by Spark and Yambasu with barely 10 minutes gone.
Austen saw a header drift wide after a brilliant centre by Hall and Hyem had an effort turned around the post as we threatened to run riot.
The home side changed there shape to try and deal with our midfield dominance, but other than Niall dealing with the odd set play and a dangerous Blake break away, it was us who looked likely to add more.
On half time a long Parr clearance sent Yambasu through 1 v 1 with only the keeper in 20 yards of him. Selflessly John tried to square the ball to the onrushing Hyem who would have had a walk in goal. However John made a hash of the chance and let the home team off the hook.
John was superb in the first half and gave the home centre backs a torrid time with his mobility and strength. The goals his play deserves will come but for the moment his contribution to us is massive.
At half time we talked about not allowing the home side to pen us in and build pressure. We weren’t helped by the impressive Unwin having to limp off at half time with a dead leg. We were forced to juggle 4 players into new positions, but credit to the boys we limited Norwich to set plays and although they had lots of territory we weren’t conceding chances.
But on the hour the home side were right back in it when the lively Hipperson sent an unbelievable side volley into the top right corner with Niall having no chance in goal.
10 minutes later we failed to clear our lines and conceded a stick on penalty. Had this gone in, with the slope, wind and momentum a point would have been valuable. But Niall plunged to his right and sent a strong top hand up to repel a well hit Blake spot kick.
The cleared penalty saw us break quickly and Spark danced into the box only to have a shot smothered by the home keeper.
Norwich threw the sink at us in the last 15 minutes and aside from a Blake air shot after good wide play we looked comfortable despite the pressure.
To beat such a good team twice this season shows the levels we can reach and even with injuries stacked up left and right we are more than capable of doing great things in this league.
We will need to keep our performance level sky high if we hope to cling onto Norwich’s coat tails as they continue to be the bench mark for all teams at our level.
On Wednesday we hope to return home for what would be our first game in over 2 months when we host Haverhill for another stiff challenge.
See you at the far post.