Huckerby special brightens opener

CHRIS LAKEY Fakenham Town 0, Norwich City 4: Norwich City cleared out the cobwebs acquired over the summer with an expected victory last night.


Fakenham Town 0, Norwich City 4

Norwich City cleared out the cobwebs acquired over the summer with an expected victory last night.

It may only have been Ridgeons First Division opposition, but no one went to Clipbush Park expecting the pride of Norfolk to be on the line.

City boss Nigel Worthington opted to field two teams, one for each half, then mixed and matched his players so that there was little indication of how he plans to line up at Leeds on August 5.

What was clear was that most of his players have 'summered' well. Youssef Safri ran the show in an opening half which City won 2-0, while Peter Thorne, who lost his goalscoring touch and consequently his place in the squad last season, grabbed both second half goals.

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But Darren Huckerby is never one to be outshone and his first half volley - reminiscent of a goal at MK Dons during the Championship- winning season - was one that few will better anywhere in the next 12 months.

Add to the mix the nifty footwork and inventiveness of Paul McVeigh and the willingness of the likes of youngsters Patrick Bexfield and Andrew Fisk, and Worthington will have made the short journey home in a good mood.

Safri took just two minutes to stretch his Moroccan legs, letting rip with a free kick from 25 yards which was blocked. Andy Hughes slammed the rebound into the Fakenham defence before Leon McKenzie brought some finesse to the move with a shot on the turn which was only inches over the bar.

Predictably, almost all of the play was in Fakenham's half and keeper Steve Lewis did well to tip away a Huckerby cross before Gary Doherty could get his head to it.

Fakenham had their moments, mostly supplied by Stewart King, who brought a ripple of applause with a lob that was only narrowly too high.

There was some Championship quality from Safri and Huckerby, the midfielder hitting a raking crossfield pass which the striker took with ease before setting up McKenzie whose shot was blocked.

It was billed as a friendly but Huckerby takes most things football seriously and a friendly tap and a fearsome scowl was despatched in the direction of right-back Robbie Palmer when the young defender upended him.

Fakenham survived the opening quarter of an hour thanks to Lewis' heroics in goal - including a 20th minute penalty save from McKenzie after Huckerby's mazy run had been ended illegally by Paul Andrews.

It was a rare piece of excitement, but the momentum began to build and it was no real surprise when the Safri-Huckerby combination broke the deadlock - Safri's long cross from the right falling perfectly for Huckerby to execute a stunning right foot volley from 10 yards.

Four minutes later it was 2-0, home town boy Ryan Jarvis benefiting from some confusion in the area and clipping the ball over the hapless Lewis.

McKenzie almost atoned for his penalty miss with a spectacular overhead kick after good work between Huckerby and Ryan Jarvis, but Lewis again read the danger.

At the other end a nicely worked free kick saw King put a shot just too high but for home fans the highlight of the half was the substitution of long-serving Wayne Coe, which brought probably the biggest cheer of the night.

That was it for City's first half team but the second half players were clearly in no mood to be outshone, particularly Thorne.

It didn't start too well for the former Cardiff striker when Lewis saved with his legs after good work by McVeigh.

McVeigh himself was denied by Lewis' brilliant stop but the keeper was helpless to prevent Thorne from making it 3-0 on 64 minutes.

Five minutes later Thorne was again on the scoresheet after good work from Dickson Etuhu and Robert Eagle, who combined to give him just enough space to slot the ball home from close range.

Carl Robinson tried to get in on the act with a precise long range effort but was a foot too high while Adam Drury will need to adjust his radar after seeing three thundering efforts narrowly miss the target. But the cobwebs are off, the sleeves are rolled up and business gets that little bit more serious on Saturday when the Canaries travel to Conference outfit Cambridge United.

t Fakenham (starting line-up): Lewis, Palmer, Pease, Day, Andrews, King, Wheeler, Coe, Haynes, White, Savage.

Norwich (first half): Lewis, Colin, Doherty, Rossi Jarvis, Bexfield, Safri, Hughes, Huckerby, El Ouargui, Ryan Jarvis, McKenzie.

t Norwich (second half): Gallacher, Drury, Shackell, Cave-Brown, Spillane, Fisk, Etuhu, Robinson, Eagle (Smart 74), McVeigh, Thorne.