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Thursday, December 27, 2012
What a year for Norwich City! A wonderful 12th place in the Premier League to follow back-to-back promotions, a new manager in Chris Hughton to build on the achievements of the departing Paul Lambert, a new England cap in goalkeeper John Ruddy, famous victories over Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United, and some cup-tie heroics along the way. Today we pick out our top 10 Canary moments of 2012 . . .
January 28: Goalkeeper Jed Steer made a dream debut at 19 as the Canaries reached the last 16 of the FA Cup for the first time since 2007 and only the fourth time in 20 seasons. Substitute Simeon Jackson struck five minutes from time to clinch a 2-1 fourth round victory at West Bromwich Albion, a repeat of the Premier League result on the same ground a fortnight earlier. Skipper Grant Holt had given City a first-half lead - not enough, though, to impress Albion boss Roy Hodgson when he became England manager later in the season.
April 9: Elliott Bennett’s first goal for City gave them a magnificent 2-1 victory over Champions League hopefuls Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Easter Monday. Bennett struck a 66th-minute winner to give the Canaries their first win at Spurs since 1993, the outstanding result of a remarkable season. Anthony Pilkington celebrated his recall after injury by giving the Canaries a 13th-minute lead, Jermain Defoe levelling for Harry Redknapp’s Spurs before half-time.
May 5: City’s Premier League away programme ended with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium as substitute Steve Morison scored five minutes from time, his 10th goal of the season. Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt had given the Canaries a 2-1 interval lead to spark hopes of a famous away double in North London after the win at Spurs. The only Premier League game of the day, the early kick-off provided more thrills than the FA Cup final later that afternoon.
June 7: The Canaries announced that Chris Hughton was their new manager – the man to succeed Paul Lambert following his controversial exit to Aston Villa. City agreed compensation with Hughton’s former club, Birmingham City, and signed the 53-year-old on a three-year deal. Hughton confirmed that he would be bringing his own backroom team of Colin Calderwood, Paul Trollope and scout Ewan Chester with him from Birmingham. “The club, through good management on and off the field, has got itself into a good position in the Premier League. My responsibility is to sustain that,” said the new boss.
July 3: The six-week saga over striker Grant Holt’s transfer request ended abruptly when he performed a U-turn and agreed a new three-year deal with City. At 31 and with two years of his existing deal to run, there was some debate over whether he was entitled to an extension, but new manager Chris Hughton made it a priority and most were glad to see him stay and attempt to add to his 70 goals in three seasons with the club.
August 15: John Ruddy became the seventh City player – and the third goalkeeper - to win a full England cap while with the club, making his debut in the 2-1 friendly win over Italy in Berne. Ruddy appeared as a half-time substitute for Jack Butland and made a fine save from Mattia Destro before Jermain Defoe struck a late winner for Roy Hodgson’s team. Ruddy’s debut helped atone for missing the Euro 2012 finals when he broke a finger in training.
August 21: Three days after crashing 5-0 at Fulham on the opening day of the Premier League season, manager Chris Hughton snapped up French-born Cameroon international centre-half Sébastien Bassong from Tottenham for a reported £4m. It was a key signing. Just 11 days later, he was back at Spurs, helping City to a 1-1 draw. Later in the season, Bassong weighed in with three goals in four matches, and was voted player of the month for November.
October 20: Carrow Road was rocking again as Grant Holt gave City a memorable first Premier League win of the season at the expense of Arsenal’s expensively-assembled stars. Manager Chris Hughton’s wait for a league victory ended in the eighth game as Holt struck on 20 minutes, tucking home the rebound after goalkeeper Vito Mannone spilled Alex Tettey’s powerful 20-yard shot. The goal took Holt into the top six goalscorers in the Canaries’ history.
October 31: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn was the hero as City reached the last eight of the Capital One Cup with a 2-1 home win over Spurs, booking their first quarter-final in the League Cup competition for 17 seasons. The game turned dramatically in the last six minutes as the Canaries, trailing 1-0 to Gareth Bale’s goal, hit back through a Jan Vertonghen own goal and Simeon Jackson – before Bunn saved a penalty from Clint Dempsey to secure victory.
November 17: Anthony Pilkington’s first goal of the season gave City a famous victory over Manchester United at Carrow Road. It was cometh the hour, cometh the man as Pilkington struck after 60 minutes with a perfectly-placed header from a cross by full-back Javier Garrido. Goalkeeper John Ruddy recorded his fifth clean sheet of the season as the Canaries secured only their second win over United in 15 meetings, stretching back more than 21 years.