Canaries on Song at Wembley
Written By: Robert Halter
Middlesbrough’s two victories over Norwich City in the Championship counted for nothing in a winner takes all game at Wembley Stadium on a May Bank Holiday Monday to determine the destiny for the Canaries and Boro, in their bid for promotion to the Premier League. Both teams went into a huddle before kick off before play got underway and it was the Canaries, who were first to rattle the bar on eight minutes, as Bradley Johnson, cannoned his shot against the upright, after the ball was played back off Middlesbrough’s, Dean Whitehead. Then Boro were denied by the woodwork, a minute later, as the ball was carelessly back heeled by Sebastien Bassong, into the path of Norwich’s Jelle Vossen, who cracked a strike onto the crossbar. Although it was the Canaries, that struck the first blow on eleven minutes, as Johnson’s long ball caught out Daniel Ayala, and as he slipped, Cameron Jerome, cut in from a tight angle on the left side, to fire the ball past Dimitrios Konstantopoulos. On the quarter of the hour mark, Norwich took the game by the scruff of the neck, as Steven Fletcher slid the ball through to Nathan Remdond, whose low strike found the far corner of the net, to put the Canaries in dreamland. Midway through the first half, Vossen was unable to convert a header from a well placed cross by George Friend, as the luck was out for Middlesbrough. At half time, Boro replaced Dean Whitehead with Emilio Nsue. In the fiftieth minute, from a corner by Grant Leadbitter, to Boro’s dismay, an unmarked Ayala, missed the target with a header. As desperation seeped in for Middlesbrough, Vossen was booked for diving in the area, while he was being guarded by Steven Whittaker, as Boro tried to get back in the game. On fifty eight minutes, Canaries shot stopper, John Ruddy, made a routine save to hold onto Patrick Bamford’s effort, after a lay off by Lee Tomlin. Boro made a second change by replacing Vossen with Kike. But it was the Canaries captain, Russell Martin, that missed a glorious opportunity with a header from Redmond’s corner in the sixty sixth minute. Norwich made a double change by taking off Jerome and bringing on Lewis Grabban and then replaced Wes Hoolahan with Graham Dorrans. Norwich were in cruise control as the game approached seventy eight minutes, as Redmond bent a free kick over the upright, following an infringement by Ayala on Dorrans. With eighty minutes on the clock, Boro had a late charge, as Ayala’s header cannoned against Grabban, from a Leadbitter corner, before the Canaries took off Redmond with Gary O’ Neil taking over. Then as the final whistle blew, it was Norwich City celebrating their return to the top flight, after just one season away.