September 2 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Norwich City hit the goal trail at Braintree to step up their pre-season preparations in style on Tuesday night at the Amlin Stadium.
Kyle Lafferty’s 25-yard free kick was the pick of a predatory offering from Neil Adams’ squad with Ricky van Wolfswinkel also on target within a minute of his second half arrival prior to a late second close range tap-in. City were already 2-0 up at the break thanks to Lafferty and Andrew Surman’s early opener before Nathan Redmond, Bradley Johnson and van Wolfswinkel completed the pre-season rout, with Sean Marks replying for the Conference Premier hosts.
Adams again opted to field two radically altered line ups in each half but the City boss Adams did retain his faith in the midfield diamond from the off with Republic of Ireland international Wes Hoolahan earning his first start of the pre-season at the point of a midfield four behind Lafferty and Gary Hooper.
Elliott Bennett switched to full back with Jonny Howson and Surman either side of Johnson in the anchor role. Captain Russ Martin partnered Michael Turner in central defence with Swedish international Martin Olsson also making his seasonal re-appearance on the left of the back four.
Hoolahan’s creative urges took him clear of the retreating Braintree midfield before he was crudely hauled down by Chez Isaac but Bradley Johnson’s thumping left footed free kick was collected by Nick Hamann.
Martin had to take evasive action to clear Kenny Davis’ set piece with the Iron looked to pin City back in the early stages; Alan Massey’s flick from the resulting corner drifting wide of John Ruddy’s left-hand post.
Norwich responded in perfect fashion and there was a soothing inevitability about Hoolahan’s involvement. Hooper raced clear down the right before picking out the Irishman on the edge of the area who calmly rolled in Surman to slot past Hamann.
The unmarked Hooper then headed Surman’s cross over eight yards out with Braintree struggling to subdue Adams’ men in the immediate aftermath.
Johnson swerved past Ryan Case but the over-worked Hamann beat away his first time strike before Hoolahan was crowded out but there was plenty of encouraging signs for the Canaries in their attacking intent.
City did survive a scare at the other end in the 12th minute when Ronnie Hawkins stabbed a left-foot shot against the base of Ruddy’s post.
Adams had another momentary concern when Lafferty landed awkwardly after challenging Hamann but the new signing was fit to continue after treatment.
Matt Paine headed a sharp chance over Ruddy’s bar in the 21st minute but the Conference Premier outfit were largely restricted to sporadic sights of the England keeper’s goal with City confident in possession.
Lafferty was upended on a positive foray and the Northern Irishman punished the hosts with a dipping 25-yard free kick past a sprawling Hamann.
Hawkins profited from Martin’s indecision on the restart but the midfielder’s left-foot strike slammed Ruddy’s side netting from an acute angle.
City’s midfield blend of Johnson’s industry and the smooth promptings of Hoolahan and Surman was creating plenty of opportunity for Olsson and Elliott Bennett to launch raiding parties down either flank despite the Iron’s attempts to squeeze the space in front of Hamann.
Lafferty was a coat of paint from his second on the night when a glancing header slammed the top of the Braintree bar from Elliott Bennett’s cross.
Howson slalomed between Davis and James Mulley but his right foot finish lacked the accuracy of Lafferty’s previous intervention.
Adams reprised his formula from the Dereham opener at the interval with eight changes including a first summer sighting of van Wolfswinkel and Mark Bunn.
The Dutch record signing took barely a minute to open his account after Hamann totally misjudged his intended punt clear allowing the striker to walk the ball over the line.
Hamann showed no lingering effects from his rash misjudgement with a superb tip over to foil Josh Murphy with City’s attacking edge remaining just as potent despite the huge overhaul in personnel.
Nathan Redmond was next to add his name to a growing scoresheet in the 54th minute when he was allowed to advance and drill a low right foot strike into Hamann’s bottom right-hand corner.
Lewis Grabban was the next in line for target practice but the harassed Braintree stopper stood firm until Johnson slotted a fifth from the edge of the area.
Sean Marks grabbed a consolation for the well-beaten Iron with a close range volley before making way for Elias Moses with City largely content to play out the final stages in cruise control until van Wolfswinkel had another simple assignment to sweep home Murphy’s cross.
• Braintree (starting line up): Hamann, Case, Habergham, Isaac, Paine, Massey, Mulley, Davis, Marks, Walker, Hawkins.
• Goal: Marks (69)
• Norwich City (first half line-up): Ruddy, E Bennett, Martin, Turner, Olsson, Johnson, Howson, Surman, Hoolahan, Lafferty, Hooper. (second half line up): Bunn, Whittaker, R Bennett, Turner (Gafaiti 60), Garrido, Redmond, Howson (Hoolahan 60), Johnson (Loza 67), Josh Murphy, Grabban, van Wolfswinkel.
• Goals: Surman (7), Lafferty (24), van Wolfswinkel (46, 86), Redmond (54), Johnson (62)
• Referee: Mike Bull
• Attendance: 833