Fun in the sun as big Carrow Road crowd enjoys Norwich Legends taking on Inter Forever
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Just short of 18,000 people showed their support for the Community Sports Foundation as Norwich City Legends were beaten 2-1 by a star-studded Inter Forever on an entertaining afternoon at Carrow Road.
The match was being held to raise funds for CSF's new hub, The Nest, and to mark the approaching 25-year anniversary of City's Uefa Cup run.
The community hub is under construction on the former Anglian Windows Sports & Social Club site off Holt Road, near Norwich Airport, and £2.5m in funds are needed to complete the £10.9million project.
Norwich started with nine players who were at the club during the 1993-94 season, when Mike Walker's team were knocked out of the Uefa Cup in the third round by eventual winners Inter. Adam Drury and Phil Mulryne were more recent legends in the starting line-up, leaving plenty of energy on the bench.
The visitors were playing the second match of their visit to England, having beaten a Chelsea Legends team 4-1 in front of over 28,000 at Stamford Bridge on Friday night, when a Giorgos Karagounis brace added to goals from Marco Materazzi and David Suazo, with funds going to the Chelsea Foundation and Crohn's and Colitis UK in memory of Ray Wilkins.
With the sun beaming down and a great atmosphere, City keeper Bryan Gunn got the first big cheer of the game as he got his 54-year-old frame down to hold a Suazo shot from 15 yards in the sixth minute.
Soon after there was a moment of concern as Francesco Colonnese got a tackle all wrong and clattered Darren Eadie in midfield, apologising profusely as the winger limped away.
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Spencer Prior's cross from the right nearly drifted in but Francesco Toldo kept the ball out of the Inter net in the seventh minute and the former Italy keeper held a Phil Mulryne free-kick soon after.
The Italians took the lead in the 15th minute when Materazzi powered home a superb 20-yard free-kick, in off the post and giving Gunn no chance.
The first of many substitutions then began as Gunn gave way to Scott Howie and Toldo to Sebastien Frey, before John Polston accidentally headed in a Houssine Kharja corner in the 24th minute to double Inter's lead to plenty of amusement.
That prompted manager Mike Walker to turn to some younger legs, with Darren Huckerby and Grant Holt replacing Daryl Sutch and Lee Power and injecting some attacking intent.
Frey made a stunning save from a Holt header in the 36th minute after Huckerby swung in a corner but Inter countered and Gary Holt showed real determination to get back and nudge Suazo off the ball so that Howie could claim the ball.
There were pantomime boos for referee Dermot Gallagher on the stroke of half-time as he opted not to give a penalty when Grant Holt was brought down by Massimo Paganin, as the half finished 2-0 to the visitors.
There were big cheers as Youssef Safri and Iwan Roberts joined the action early in the second half, followed by the expected pantomime boos for Andy Marshall.
Huckerby so nearly found Roberts with a cross to roll back the years but Spencer Prior and Darren Kenton both had to make important blocks as Inter remained on top.
Grant Holt twice went close with his head as City tried to make a game of it, first nodding just wide from an Adam Drury cross and then heading over the bar after brilliant play from Huckerby to keep the ball in.
Marshall made two smart saves to deny Inter, holding a Jurgen Klinsmann header well from a Karagounis cross from the right and then getting down well to parry a Karagounis free-kick.
The goal the Canaries deserved came in the 64th minute and it was a lovely team move, Eadie setting Huckerby clear on the left, whose cross allowed Roberts to be a nuisance so that Paul McVeigh could shimmy to throw the keeper and slot home from close range.
It brought a huge cheer but soon after Klinsmann hit the post as Inter remained a danger on the break, with Marshall forced into another fine denial of a Kharja shot in the closing stages.
Klinsmann then enjoyed the acclaim of the crowd as he hit the other post late on with Marshall beaten, as if he had done it on purpose, as Inter kept their foot on the pedal to see out the win on a wonderfully nostalgic afternoon.
Norwich Legends starting line-up: Gunn, Sutch, Bowen, Drury, Polston, Newman (C), Mulryne, Eadie, Prior, Power, Ullathorne. Subs: Howie (GK), Marshall (GK), Walton (GK), Kenton, Huckerby, Ekoku, Holt, Roberts, Gary Holt, Grant Holt, Safri, McVeigh, Akinbiyi
Goal: McVeigh (64)
Inter Forever starting line-up: Toldo, Zanetti (C), Bianchi, Berti, Kharja, Materazzi, Silvestre, Dabo, Suazo, Colonnese, Paganin. Subs: Frey (GK), Klinsmann, Baresi, Karagounis
Goals: Materazzi (15), Polston OG (24)
Referee: Dermot Gallagher
Assistants: Darren Cann, John Busby, David 'Spud' Thornhill
• For more about the Build The Nest campaign see thenest.org.uk
• If you would like to support CSF, donations can be made at communitysportsfoundation.org.uk or you can text 'NEST11£5' to 70070 to donate £5