Team: Drinkwater, Woods, Ingham, Keen, Rutter, Whitfield, Kerrins, Longbottom, Bedford, Andrews, Locke
The following in-depth match report appeared in the local ‘Pink Un’, the ‘Eastern Football News’, later that day:
‘A golden goal by Terry Allcock sent Norwich City off to a winning start on their three-match programme at Carrow Road. But it was nearly the mud that won the day.
Conditions were not so bad as they had been at Port Vale a week previously, but they were bad enough and both teams deserved credit for the way they kept at it for the whole of the game.
The Canaries fully deserved their success, for they looked quite the better team and had they taken all their chances they would have won quite handsomely. They can be forgiven, however, for missed chances on a day such as this.
John Richards had not had the best of conditions in which to appear in City’s first-team colours. He had the worst of the going today, but he showed clever touches despite the mud.
It is a tribute to the loyalty of the Canaries’ supporters that, despite the rain the match was watched by a crowd of 17,053.
For their first home match since December 28th, City made the one announced change – Richards returning to lead the attack in place of Terry Bly. Rangers were also forced to make one alteration in their line-up, Whitfield coming in at left-half in place of Petchey.
By kick-off time the crowd had improved to about 15,000, and they were given a warming opening by the Canaries. A left-wing raid saw the ball flicked into the middle, where Allcock tried a shot as Drinkwater advanced and the ball ran loose. Punton put it across, but Hill’s attempt at a header was well off the mark.
First casualty in the mud, which was obviously going to make attractive football very difficult, was the referee, who went flat in the centre circle!
The going was extremely heavy in the middle and before the game was five minutes old several Rangers’ attempts at short passing bogged down, enabling City to intercept.
Rangers’ pressure continued for several minutes, but finally McCrohan and Allcock combined to put Richards in possession near the left corner flag. The
centre-forward switched the ball to Punton, but the winger unfortunately ran the ball over the line.
Drinkwater won a thrilling race for the ball with Crossan and, in Rangers’ next attack Kennon went full tilt into a Press photographer in trying to prevent the ball going for Rangers’ first corner.
Longbottom had a good chance when a slip by Butler left him to the right of the City goal with only Kennon to beat. He pushed the ball just too far and Kennon gathered it at his feet.
Soon afterwards, Longbottom came again with a strong shot that was not far wide – and he tried again a minute later with similar result.
Rangers had the narrowest of escapes in the 17th minute when Richards cleverly beat Rutter and fired a low centre across the visitors’ goalmouth. Two City forwards missed it, two more tried to force the ball in by the far post, but somehow Woods scrambled it away with City players appealing strongly for a goal.
Rangers switched wingers for a time and when City threatened to breakaway on the left, Hill was given offside. The visitors were using this trap fairly frequently.
There were boos from the crowd when Crossan, breaking into the penalty area, was brought down from behind. The linesman appeared to signal a penalty, but the referee gave the Canaries a free kick just outside the area. It was headed clear and for a minute or two, the crowd showed their displeasure.
The underfoot conditions were getting worse and there were several spells of lustreless football. First Thurlow and then Rutter had to pass back to his goalkeeper to avoid an awkward situation. And Butler earned a round of applause when he neatly stopped Kerrins.
Richards had a half-chance when Punton found him with a neat pass. Instead of shooting, he tried to find Hill and a Rangers defender stuck out a foot to deflect the ball for a corner.
Five minutes from the interval, Hill brought a roar from the crowd with a great shot from just outside the box that sent Drinkwater diving across goal to save. It was City’s best effort so far.
Most of the first-half pressure had come from City, but they had got to master the offside trap and find more punch in the mud than they had shown so far if they were to make anything of this game.
On the stroke of the interval there was another chance when, with Drinkwater out of his goal, Punton put the ball over his head, only to see it nodded away and seconds later Allcock realised a fraction too late that for once, the offside trap had not worked.
He dashed desperately for the ball, but only succeeded in lifting it over the goal as Drinkwater advanced. Half-time: 0-0.
Rangers began the second-half with an all-out attack that ended with Locke driving a shot into the side netting. They also had a right-wing corner when the City defence took too much time in clearing – and there was a gasp from the crowd when Kerrins’ flag-kick hit the angle of post and bar.
It took City a good five minutes to find their attacking form again and then Hill brought Drinkwater to his knees with a low drive.
In the 54th minute the Canaries at last got the goal that they deserved. A neat attacking movement ended with Allcock running on to a well placed through pass.
His first shot beat the advancing Drinkwater and rebounded off the foot of an upright, but he followed up quickly to tap the ball home.
Two minutes later Allcock slipped through again, side stepped Drinkwater and hit the ball home; but the whistle had gone for offside.
The goal, however, put the fire into City’s game that had been lacking. They piled into the attack, with Richards doing his utmost to burst through, and they had a corner when Hill had a centre deflected behind by Woods.
Rangers promptly reverted to the offside trap and succeeded with it twice in quick succession. But they were in luck when Punton went through on to Richards’ pass and hit an upright with his shot.
Little was now being seen of the Rangers’ attack and after Punton had a short centre rather luckily cleared, Hill brought another save from Drinkwater.
The Canaries also had a corner from the right from which Drinkwater touched the ball on to the crossbar and there was quite a scramble in front of the visitors’ goal before the ball was cleared.
It was not long before Richards was spearheading another City attack, another that ended unfortunately in the offside trap. Ingham used his hands to stop City getting through and from the free kick, Rutter headed behind for a corner,
Rangers replied with their most dangerous move of the match, Longbottom finally producing a header that sent Kennon diving to make a brilliant save.
With 15 minutes to go, Rangers were more in the game than they had been at any stage of the match, but they had another let-off when Drinkwater dived in the mud at the feet of a couple of City forwards, lost the ball, and had it tapped into his hands by Allcock.
Andrews tried hard to get Rangers’ attack going, but most of the play was still in the visitors’ half, and Hill tried a rather tame shot that went through into Drinkwater’s hands.
A foul by Whitfield on Crowe gave City a free kick and three times Rangers put back to their ‘keeper to avoid trouble. And they still persisted in the offside trap.
Four minutes from the end Punton produced a great burst that took him right into the Rangers’ penalty area. It looked as if he must score, but his fierce shot was deflected over for a corner.
Punton again tried to burst through, but was this time outnumbered, and after Keen had a centre caught by Kennon, the left-winger ran on to a Hill pass and fired a cannonball of a shot just wide.
Rangers made one last effort to break through on the left, but Thurlow kept them out.’
QPR lost there 5-1 the previous year and two-nil the season before that!
Rangers’ latest visit to Carrow Road last week followed the script! In fact, we have only won once there in our last 15 attempts.
(The caption for the above action shot reads: ‘A narrow escape for the Canaries as Rangers’ inside-right Longbottom misses the City goal by a yard’)