Tame display easy to forget
STEVE GEDGE You know how you never forget some games, how years later the intricate detail of every last move or incident comes flooding back?
You know how you never forget some games, how years later the intricate detail of every last move or incident comes flooding back?
Well, Saturday at Home Park was not one of those occasions - the long distance and effort made to visit the far-flung Pilgrims was hardly worth it.
Indeed, were it not for some heavy-handed over-the-top first-half action from the stewards in the away end - can't imagine they were so officious for the visit of the likes of Kidderminster four seasons ago - and Darren Huckerby's outstanding goal, by this morning you would be hard pressed to recall much about the game at all.
Fine, if City had won, you'd just look back at the game and say “job done”, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.
While the likes of Crystal Palace carry on in their merry way, picking up away wins against poor sides, it's something that the Canaries just can't do.
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This was a fixture which really was a case of two points dropped and not one gained. Plymouth were better than they had been at Carrow Road last September - it would have been hard for them to have been even worse - but they still didn't have a lot to offer.
City started brightly enough, true, but once they had needlessly fallen behind again, they totally lost their composure.
Not as bad as QPR, granted, but it was hard to see exactly how City were going to get back into the match with a distinct lack of quality on show. But for Simon Charlton's goal-line clearance, the game could have been out of their reach.
Huckerby, well, you can excuse him anything because of his goal, but there wasn't a lot to offer from the rest of the City outfield 10.
Dean Ashton seemed so weighed down by all the transfer speculation surrounding him that he might just as well have been really injured, while the midfield was totally devoid in quality, match-winning players.
Certainly Jason Jarrett had his best game in Canary colours, but you don't have to be too cynical to imagine that was because he was trying to impress prospective new employers. Certainly I am hard pressed to recall the last time a City player was substituted to the heartfelt, genuine chant of “Sign him up” from the opposition fans.
At half-time it was hard to see exactly how City were ever going to get back into the match.
Cue Huckerby, however. If you were a Plymouth fan I'd guess you'd be a bit critical of your defence for backing off, but you have to credit the City No 6 for the tenacity he showed in keeping possession and then trying his luck from the tightest of angles.
Having got back into the game, however, at an ideal point you sensed that the points were there for the taking.
But with no Paul McVeigh, and frankly I'd have brought Peter Thorne on for the ineffective Ashton far earlier, City just never really looked likely to get the second goal they needed.
Ian Henderson showed plenty of effort and industry, but when he was given one clear chance to score he headed across goal.
You can forgive Thorne for not scoring with his first touch after he came on, but ultimately Norwich never built on Huckerby's opportunism.
There are times when an away point is something to be pleased about. But against a poor bottom-five side when City have a desperate need for points, this was definitely a case of two dropped rather than one gained.
Even with their injury and suspension problems this is a match City should have won. If Preston win their game in hand - coincidentally away to Plymouth - Norwich will be eight points adrift of the play-off positions and I see nothing on Saturday's evidence to convince me that at the moment they have the ability and resources to bridge that gap.