Norwich City’s Man of the Match v Stoke

PUBLISHED: 11:23 05 March 2012 | UPDATED: 16:02 05 March 2012

Norwich City's Man of the Match: Zak Whitbread. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Norwich City's Man of the Match: Zak Whitbread. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited +447814 482222

Given Stoke’s mastery in the air and propensity for football in the clouds, the odds on a Norwich City defender featuring prominently in the star performer stakes were prohibitively high.

Matthew Etherington’s solitary match-winner may have highlighted one or two increasingly rare frailities in the Canaries’ rearguard on a day when for the large part they responded bravely to the onslaught at the Britannia Stadium. Zak Whitbread and Elliott Ward were always going to be pivotal to the outcome.

Ward may feel he could have held up Etherington’s decisive charge, although given the folly for even the slightest miscalculation in the penalty box these days you could understand his reticence not to be enticed into a rash challenge.

Whitbread, however, was foot and head perfect again. The blonde-haired centre back continued where he had left off against Manchester United. The plan was obvious from the first throw-in of the match. Whitbread and Ward would trap Peter Crouch in a pincer. Crouch escaped just the once - when John Ruddy was his equal from point blank range.

Whitbread’s ability to anticipate reduced the risk at source with numerous unfussy interceptions both in the air and on the floor preventing Stoke from building off Crouch. Whitbread also tried to get Norwich on the front foot in the final stages to try and cancel out Etherington’s strike.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Related articles

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Norwich Evening News