‘A great day’ - Australia’s Norwich City fans reflect on match against Antipodean Ipswich fans
17:08 11 August 2014
Bathed in 25 degrees of scorching Sydney sun, pitch number four at Centennial Park played host to the first ‘Old Farm Down Under’ derby on Saturday.
Seventeen Canaries fans in total - some flying more than three hours from New Zealand for the cause - took to the turf and went toe to toe with their Ipswich counterparts which ended in a thrilling 5-5 draw that took penalties to separate the two teams.
“The game had absolutely everything”, said Norwich captain Mark Larwood, who travelled from Auckland, New Zealand to play in the game.
“There was the same sort of passion you would expect a proper derby match to be, but it was all fair and square and the commitment shown on the pitch was only rivalled by the determination of the fans who came from far and wide being determined to make it a day to remember for all the right reasons.”
Town skipper Ed Parker agreed, adding: “The game was played in a competitive but respectful spirit, and to use a cliche we were all winners today - traditional rivals united by location and a passion for supporting their respective clubs.”
The contest started at the tempo it was to carry on, with both sides eager to show what they could do from the first whistle.
It was Ipswich who had the first chance, and so very nearly the first goal of the game as a well worked move ended up with the Norwich woodwork rattled within two minutes.
As both sides tried their best to assert themselves on the game, midfields tried to wrestle control from one another, and it was Town who drew first blood controversially in the 12th minute.
As the ball was sent into space down the right flank, the Canaries defence appealed in vain for offside and the ball was crossed low for Town midfielder Leo Chandiok to poke home.
Although it was a tough break for City, referee Kieran Bhugobaun will quite rightly point to the fact that someone had forgotten to appoint a linesman to make such calls.
If that wasn’t bad enough for the Norwich faithful watching from the sideline, The Blues doubled their lead on 23 minutes when a misplaced goal kick from City ‘keeper Andy Hempsall fell kindly to Nick O’Donnell who finished clinically from the edge of the box despite the best efforts of City defender Andy Newton.
This Norwich team was not to let that knock them down though, and they turned the game on its head within six minutes of Town’s second with a quick-fire brace to bring the scores level.
Canaries forward Kevin Murray was played through by a combination of the hard-working Warren Page and midfielder Jonny Ford, finishing with aplomb with 25 minutes gone on the clock.
Four minutes later the Norwich equaliser came after Mike McGrory and Larwood combined well on the right, with the resulting through ball from the latter falling into the path of the onrushing Puddifoot who drove the ball home.
It wasn’t to be the Canaries having the last laugh in the second half, however, as The Blues made the Canaries pay for some sloppy defending to go into the break in the lead.
First O’Donnell once again punished City in the 38th minute as City failed to clear their lines.
As the ball fell kindly into the path of the physical Town striker, despite the best efforts of father/son combo Sam and Kevin Corby.
As City introduced pacy Brisbanite sub Courtney Page in the hope of pulling one back before the half, it was Ipswich who would turn the screw once more as a deep free-kick from Blues midfielder Robson caught the advancing Hempsall off guard as the ball bounced over and into the unguarded City net.
Half time: Norwich City 2 - Ipswich Town 4
The deflated Yellows were forced into a change of goalkeeper at the half, with Warren Page replacing the injured Hempsall, Tim Sims coming on to help the help the mercurial Newton plug a leaky defence, and forwards Brody Harwin and Shane Maley replacing McGrory the tiring Larwood.
The fresh blood provided Norwich with a renewed belief, and incredibly they once again fought back within the space of the opening ten minutes of the second period.
Murray, flowing with confidence after his earlier goal, once again turned his Town defender inside out to pull the score back to 4-3, before the pacy Harwin made The Blues pay after good work in the midfield from Ford and Mark Whatling.
The momentum seemed to be going City’s way, but the opposition maintained a consistent threat on the break and smart defending from Rhod James and the athletic goalkeeping of Page denying Town another goal.
City were finally caught out in the 72nd minute as Ipswich once again get their noses in front.
A promising Canary attack led by the fleet-footed girl-wonder Courney Page was broken down, and after a floated ball wreaked havoc in the City defence, Chandiok was once again in the right place at the right time to prod the ball home and put Town in the lead.
Time was running out for City, and the Canaries made a raft of substitutions to try and salvage something from the match, as Duncan Gadd joined the midfield and City went with three up front.
With Norwich throwing wave after wave of attack at a resilient town defence, the breakthrough looked to have arrived with three minutes to go as some fantastic work on the right flank by Harwin forced the Town ‘keeper into a save he could only palm into the path of the waiting Larwood, who - from three yards and with the goal at his mercy - inexplicably put the ball high over the bar and into orbit, much to the disbelief of the the City fans on the touchline.
There was was to be one final twist in the tale of this epic encounter, and deep into the last minute of injury time Norwich’s third equaliser came.
Harwin, Larwood and Maley worked well to get the ball in the box towards Murray who was on a hat trick, but there was to be another hero as Gadd popped up to fire the ball home following a heart-stopping goalmouth scramble and send the watching Yellows into delirium.
Final Score: Norwich 5 Ipswich 5
The game went to penalties which Town took out 5-3, but there were no losers on a great day which saw both sets of fans enjoying a few drinks well into the evening.
In the build up to the game, the Canaries had chosen to support two charities - Norwich City Community Sports Foundation in the UK, and Beyond Blue in Australia.
The Canaries team are still accepting donations.
If you would like to contribute, see their website www.canariesdownunder.com or follow the below links: