Video and photo gallery: Dereham Town 0, Norwich City 1
© Archant Norfolk 2014
Norwich City’s new signing Kyle Lafferty marked his debut with a volleyed winner to sink non league neighbours Dereham in the Canaries’ pre-season opener at a sweltering Aldiss Park.
Lafferty swivelled to despatch Michael Turner’s far post knock down from close range in the 76th minute of a competitive outing with the Ryman North hosts showing few signs of any inferiority complex.
City’s other summer recruit Lewis Grabban produced a vibrant first half cameo as Neil Adams elected to field two different line ups in each half.
Grabban was partnered by Gary Hooper with Jamar Loza operating at the point of a diamond in the opening period and Alex Tettey at the base. Newly-confirmed captain Russell Martin lined up centrally alongside Ryan Bennett with Steven Whittaker and Javier Garrido occupying the full-back berths.
Adam Smith’s forceful challenge through Tettey belied the friendly nature of the contest before Hooper rifled the first shot of City’s pre-season campaign in the second minute with a swerving half-volley that flew over Andy Wilton’s bar.
City predictably continued to dominate possession in the heat with Grabban drifting to the far post to control Elliott Bennett’s deep cross and cut inside three Magpies’ defender before his shot deflected behind.
Martin glanced his header wide from the corner.
John Ruddy was pressed into action in the tenth minute to kick away Craig Bussens’ drilled close range effort. Grabban’s first time effort at the opposite end brushed the side netting with both sides keen to attack in the early stages.
Wilton reacted sharply to grasp at Hooper’s feet after the former Celtic frontman attempted to work an opening inside the Dereham penalty area.
Elliott Bennett’s quick thinking from a free kick teed up Ryan Bennett but Wilton parried his towering header before Hooper lashed wide from inside the six-yard box with Adams’ side threatening with every foray in the home half. Tettey’s slack control on the edge of his own area in the 22nd minute offered Dereham some respite but Bussens’ heavy throughball struck the retreating Norwegian international on the back.
Grabban’s willingness to drop deeper in search of work created a pocket of space for Elliott Bennett but his rising shot failed to test Wilton.
Elliott Bennett hugged the right touchline to collect Hooper’s rolled flick but Grabban’s near post header struck Matt Howard who had tracked the striker’s initial dart. Surman curled wide from the edge in the 30th minute in the dominant theme of the opening period.
Dereham’s tigerish closing down in central areas was now disrupting much of Norwich’s early flowing forward play as the game meandered in the closing stages of the opening period.
Hooper’s dragged effort from 20 yards five minutes prior to the interval underlined the lack of precision to the visitors’ work at this early stage of pre-season.
Adams made nine changes at the interval with only Martin and Garrido remaining from the first half starters. City’s other new recruit Kyle Lafferty was partnered up front with Luciano Becchio in a physically-imposing strike pairing; Josh Murphy and Nathan Redmond tasked with supplying the ammunition.
Turner needed all his defensive instincts to halt a Dereham counter with a perfectly-timed lunging challenge. Redmond then looked to the sky in frustration after his pace took him away from the hosts’ backline but a heavy first touch saw the ball spiral towards a clearing defender.
Redmond’s arrival certainly pepped up the visitors but Josh Murphy lashed a first time hit wide from the edge of the area before his twin joined the action along with the returning Surman for Martin and Garrido in a new look full-back pairing.
James Hadley’s superb block denied Redmond a certain goal in the 68th minute when he threw himself in the way of the youngster’s goalbound side foot finish following Josh Murphy’s pacy surge. Wilton then pushed Josh Murphy’s strike around his left-hand post with the hosts offering stiff resistance.
City, however, finally broke the deadlock when Lafferty lashed home an unstoppable close range volley in the 76th minute after anticipating Turner’s far post flick which dropped invitingly for the unmarked Northern Irish international.
Josh Murphy then lined up Jason Ward before picking out Redmond who horribly miscued on his left from seven yards out.
Wilton again had to scramble across his line to parry from Josh Murphy in his final act before departing for Jake Cox who celebrated his 18th birthday with the final four minutes of normal time against the Championship outfit.
Jacob Murphy tried to get in on the act with a burst forward in the closing moments but a Dereham shirt blocked his path yet again.
• Dereham Town (starting line up): Wilton, Willis, Hannant, Hockley, Howard, Hadley, Kay, Smith, Bussens, Tuttle, Borrer.
• Norwich City (starting line up): Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin (Jacob Murphy 61), R Bennett, Garrido (Surman 61), Tettey, E Bennett, Surman, Loza, Hooper, Grabban.
Norwich City (second half line up): Rudd, Martin, Gafaiti, Turner, Garrido, Redmond, Howson, Johnson, Josh Murphy, Lafferty, Becchio.
• Goal: Lafferty (76)
• Referee: M George
• Attendance: 2,136