Iwan Roberts: Emerging talent Lewis had the Huckerby seal of approval to be a potential City star
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 January 2018
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Having had the disappointing performance and result against Brentford just before Christmas the lads certainly bounced back winning seven points from a possible nine on offer from the three games over the festive period.
I said before the games against Brentford, Birmingham, Burton and Millwall that the points won or lost would decide what the second half of the season had in store for Norwich City, who now are 10 points from the relegation zone and nine from the play-off positions. With just 20 games remaining I can’t see the club being involved in either a relegation dog fight or a play-off push sadly.
The team has simply not been consistent enough this season and I hope that Daniel Farke and the new players that came in, in the summer, will have learned so much about life in the Championship that will stand them in good stead for next season.
The game on New Year’s Day saw young Jamal Lewis make his first start at Carrow Road, one he can be very proud of as he was excellent against the Lions. It was a very mature performance by the 19-year-old full of energy and confidence and it was great to see one of the young academy products come in and take to first team football like a duck to water. His decision making was top class and his positional awareness was beyond someone of just 19.
I first saw Jamal play back at the end of October last year when I went down to Carrow Road with my good mate Hucks to see Matty Gill’s Under-23s play against West Brom. The youngster cruised through the game and you got the feeling that he had another couple of gears to go into had he needed to.
Hucks told me that Sunday afternoon that he’d been working with Jamal for a few months and that if he listens, keeps his focus on learning his trade and continues to work hard that he could go a very long way in the game. Yes, I know it’s only three games that he’s played in the first team but you have to admit that the signs are very good.
What an FA Cup third round you have in store tomorrow evening at Carrow Road when the current Premier League champions come to town, it’s a mouth-watering tie that everyone’s been looking forward to since the balls were pulled out a few weeks ago.
Norwich haven’t had much luck against Chelsea since the turn of the millennium having not beaten the Blues in their last 13 appearances, 10 of which they have lost, which includes another third round FA Cup tie back in January 2002, albeit a replay after a goalless draw at Carrow Road 11 days before.
I was gutted to miss both games as I still hadn’t recovered from a knee injury I’d suffered at Hillsborough a few weeks before. The lads were brilliant in the first game and we were so unlucky not to go through as we did miss a couple of really good chances to have won the game.
If the first game was close the replay was anything but as Chelsea really showed their class – one player in particular.
That night in West London I witnessed one of the cheekiest but best goals I’ve ever seen, a goal that left everyone shaking their heads open mouthed with the brilliance of Gianfranco Zola.
We were already two goals down when Chelsea won a corner on 63 minutes on the right-hand side of the pitch and to the right of the dugouts so we had a great view of what happened next, something none of us expected. I can’t remember who took the corner for Chelsea, but it was a right-footed player which meant the ball swung away from the goal.
The ball was put into the near-post area just outside the six yard box where Zola had timed his run to perfection, however he had his back to goal which was a problem for him, or so we thought.
We couldn’t believe what happened next as the little Italian in a blink of an eye without breaking his stride back-heeled the ball with power past a helpless Robert Green, it really was a moment of pure genius which we knew Zola had in his locker and it’s a goal that’s been shown over and over again over the years and rightly so.
Let’s hope tomorrow it’s either Alex Prichard or James Maddison that provides a little moment of magic to put Norwich into the fourth round of the best club cup competition in the world.