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Norwich City 3-1 Town (4-2 on Aggregate)
Saturday, 16th May 2015 14:31

Town will play Championship football once again in 2015/16 after they were defeated 3-1 by Norwich City in the second leg of their play-off semi-final second leg, having been reduced to 10 men when Christophe Berra was red-carded just after half-time. With first game having ended 1-1 at Portman Road, the tie was turned in the 48th minute when Berra handled Nathan Redmond’s goalbound shot and was dismissed. Hoolahan scored from the spot, Smith equalised for the Blues soon after but goals from Redmond and Cameron Jerome sealed the place at Wembley for the Canaries.

Paul Anderson replaced the injured Luke Varney in an otherwise unchanged Town side, the on-loan Blackburn man having suffered a ruptured achilles in last week’s match. David McGoldrick is again a sub.

Norwich also made one expected change with Wes Hoolahan replacing Graham Dorrans, who drops to the bench.

While the home crowd did their best to emulate the Portman Road atmosphere from last week, the Blues started brightly and created the game’s first chance in the third minute, 27-goal Championship top scorer Daryl Murphy nodding Kevin Bru’s freekick from the right over when he will feel he might have done better.

Town continued to have most of the early possession and on six Anderson crossed from the left but too close to Canaries keeper John Ruddy.

The home side began to see more of the ball and on 11, after a controversially awarded corner on the right, Steven Whittaker curled a 25-yard strike well wide of Bartosz Bialkowski’s goal.

On 13 Murphy seized on a moment of hesitancy from Canaries centre-half Sebastien Bassong on the right and crossed from the byline but too near to Ruddy, who claimed. A minute later, Bru scraped well wide from 25 yards.

First leg goalscorer Anderson was a Town hero again in the 17th minute when, following a corner on the right, the winger blocked Norwich skipper Russell Martin’s low shot from the edge of the box on the line with Bialkowski beaten.

But the expected early Canary pressure had largely failed to materialise with the Blues continuing to have the better of it.

On 20 Teddy Bishop claimed a penalty when skipping past Nathan Redmond as he brought a half-cleared corner back into the box but referee Roger East wasn’t interested. Video replays suggested the Town midfielder may have had a case.

As the clock turned to 21 the Blues support burst into applause in tribute to fan Chris Reynolds, who died aged 21 last month.

On the half hour, with the Blues still on top, Canaries midfielder Bradley Johnson picked up the game’s first yellow card for clattering Bru from behind.

The now-recovered Bru struck another effort from distance on 37 but this time high and wide, Anderson’s harrying having won the ball back deep in the Norwich half.

As in the first leg Cameron Jerome was proving Norwich’s greatest threat and on 41 the former Cardiff man flicked a header which sent Hoolahan away on the left. The Irishman squared to Jonny Howson breaking on the right, but his shot struck Tyrone Mings. Moments later, Johnson wasted a freekick, shooting well over when trying to catch Bialkowski unawares.

Norwich had a brief spell of pressure as the game moved towards injury time but without creating anything significant and the half ended goalless.

Town boss Mick McCarthy will have been the happier manager at the break, the Blues having started strongly and quietened the home support fairly quickly. Despite having threatened once or twice, Norwich had never really got into their stride.

But, while Murphy might have done better with his early header and Bishop may believe he should have won a penalty, the best chance of the first half was Martin’s strike which Anderson cleared off the line. After 135 minutes of football the tie was still anybody’s.

Norwich threatened within seconds of the restart, Howson cut on from the right and played the ball into Jerome, who had his back to goal and went to ground under pressure from Tommy Smith. The loose ball was played out to Martin Olsson on the left but his shot was blocked and Bru cleared.

Town immediately broke through Sears but the former Colchester United man shot into the side-netting.

Four minutes into the second half, Town were struck by a huge double blow. Mings inadvertently fed Hoolahan down the centre, who found Redmond breaking into the area in space on the left. The former Birmingham man drew Bialkowski before hitting a goalbound effort which Berra, who had taken up a position on the line, stopped with his left arm.

Referee East pointed straight to the spot and showed Berra Town’s first red card of the season. The Scotland international had little complaint as he made his way to the tunnel.

Hoolahan took the spotkick and hit the ball to Bialkowski’s right with the keeper diving in the opposite direction to make it 1-0 on the day and 2-1 on aggregate.

Skipper Chambers moved to centre-half and Anderson to right-back as the 10-man Blues reorganised as they looked to get their Wembley dream back on track.

And on right on the hour, Town levelled. Bishop sent over a freekick from the left, Murphy headed down towards goal and Smith skipped in to take the ball past Ruddy before scuffing into the net right-footed from a matter of inches.

The former academy player was mobbed by his team-mates before running to celebrate with the ecstatic Blues support.

But parity was to last only four minutes. Bialkowski saved Olsson’s shot from the left, the loose ball eventually reaching Howson, who fed Redmond to his right and the England U21 international smashed a low shot under the Blues keeper and into the net to restore the Canaries’ lead.

Given their numerical advantage it was no surprise that the home side were by now dominating possession and on 70 they came close to increasing their lead when Howson crossed from the right and Jerome somehow managed to turn it across the face of goal when it seemed easier to score.

The Blues switched Bishop and Bru for Jay Tabb and David McGoldrick as they sought to get themselves on terms for a second time. Three minutes after coming on McGoldrick cleverly fed Mings on the left but the left-back overran the ball.

But the result was all but sealed in the 77th minute when Jerome was played in on goal by Redmond and touched the ball past the advancing Bialkowski and into the net to make it 3-1 on the day and 4-2 on aggregate. There would be no way back for the 10 men from here.

Redmond should have made it four on 80 when Howson him in on goal but he dallied and Mings got back to stab the ball away from him for a corner.

Anderson was replaced by Noel Hunt for the final seven minutes, while Gary Hooper took over from Jerome for the Canaries.

Town continued to look for a way back into the game, Chambers fed in Sears but Bassong stabbed the ball away from the Blues striker.

In injury time McGoldrick scuffed wide, then Skuse was booked for a foul before the game briefly threatened to boil over following a clash between Smith and Redmond but the referee restored order.

Soon after, referee east blew the final whistle to confirm Norwich’s place in the final against Middlesbrough and Town’s 14th successive Championship season.

The Blues can hold their heads high after a typically resilient performance in very touch circumstances.

Having shaded the first half, the match was turned by the penalty incident with Berra seemingly sticking out an instinctive arm to keep the shot out.

The Blues showed their usual resolve to get back into the match but in the end the additional player made the difference and the Canaries took two of their opportunities.

While the defeat to the Canaries is a hugely disappointing way to end the campaign, overall the season has matched the pre-season target of reaching the play-offs, however, that will come as little consolation so soon after the final whistle consigned the Blues to yet another play-off semi-final defeat.

Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Olsson, Redmond, Howson, Tettey, Johnson (E Bennett 87), Hoolahan (Dorrans 74), Jerome (Hooper 84). Unused: Rudd, Josh Murphy, R Bennett, O'Neil.

Ipswich: Bialkowski, Chambers, Mings, Berra, Smith, Skuse, Bru (Tabb 71), Bishop (McGoldrick 71), Anderson (N Hunt 84), Sears, Murphy. Unused: Gerken, Parr, S Hunt, Clarke. Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire). Att: 26,994.

Photo: Action Images

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classof81 added 14:32 - May 16
Sods law that our only sending off this season is in our biggest game. Can't fault Berra who was as immense as ever today. Without sounding too much like Brendan Rogers, we put in a terrific performance especially in the first half when we had so much energy, were the better side and had completely silenced the crowd. They just came out of the blocks the quickest second half and made us pay. Can't fault anyone today, our best performance against the scum for a while.

As much is pains me to say it, well done Norwich. You're fans were cr4p when you weren't winning and you should have walked this league with the squad you've got, but well done nonetheless.

An overall fantastic season, thank you so much to MM and TC for transforming this club, it's so important that we hang on to them along with Murphs, Bish, McGoldrick, Mings etc in the summer which won't be easy after some of the performances they've put in this season.

dizzle added 14:32 - May 16
Heartbreakingly sad, and in part, very undeserved but there we are. As an amateur footballer, if I was in the same position, and situation, as Berra I would probably have handballed it there too.
In a way I'm glad it was Berra, not Smith, who would've been lynched for it.
Time to thank Mick and the lads for what has been a spectacularly good season, far beyond any realistic expectations. A good summers break, a big-value sale to sure up the finances (imho we should sell Mings if we can get any inflated price for him), then re-start from August with a larger support behind us and the belief that we really can crack this league.

shaunkingitfc added 14:33 - May 16
Don't know what to say I'm pissd off maybe Berra should have let it in then know what happens .... We're will we finish next season no idea

GiveusaWave added 14:34 - May 16
Very sad. Can't even remember the last time we beat Norwich.
Well done on a good season guys. Onwards and upwards!

bluefeast added 14:35 - May 16
Mings is limited ,concentration needs a 90 percent improvement ,sloppy pass for goal one ,turned back for goal 2. Thats the difference and little all else. Its a painful thought and i do wonder whether we can improve on this season. We have 4 players who should be nowhere near our squad ,but we have no money to make the adjustments necessary. So disappointed.

OldClactonBlue added 14:38 - May 16
Frustrating as we played pretty well First Half. Always going to be a real problem with 10 men. Their quality did show in the last quarter but they had everything in their favour by then.
Need to move on and get back to playing good football next season, without going soft.

classof81 added 14:39 - May 16
Guentchev the last time we beat Norwich was 3-2 at PR in 09 I think, to effectively send them down to league 1- how times have changed!

ArnieM added 14:39 - May 16
So essentially then Mings once again gave the ball away which ultimately led to Berra needing to hand ball to stop a goal!

Scum gifted the leg up once again.

All said and done though as disappointed as I am we have had a brilliant season on the back of a shoe string budget. Next season we'll goup aautomatically. COYBS

DurhamTownFan added 14:40 - May 16
Sad that such a good close game to that point was decided on a player who's been amazing acting purely on instinct. Much rather be 1 down with 11 than with 10, bit if the keeper saves it then Berra is a hero.

Many positives for me: great season, some excellent wins, Murphy top scorer, emergence of bishop Mings and Bru and sears. The way we kept it down more and passed it a bit first half has to be the benchmark for next year. That midfield 3 start for me every week.

Who knows what bids come in over summer, but we're in an excellent position I give it a good go next year. Coyb, and let's all stay positive!

Safetyfirstmrwarke added 14:40 - May 16
Gutted. Horrible to gift the scum the win especially when we were competing so well. Group hug for Berra. Onwards and upwards next season. COYB!!!

ArnieM added 14:41 - May 16
Personally I'd cash in on Mings and put Parr in at his rightful left back place. A far better and more natural defender imo

jas0999 added 14:42 - May 16
Disappointing end to a very good season. Berra will probably be the fall guy and frankly it was his decision to handball which ultimately cost us. However, Berra has been excellent this season and deserves the support of the fans. If anything, Mings inexcusably gave the ball away which led to the penalty. Their second was disappointing, then Tabbs only contribution was to lose the ball for the third.

Although we have had a decent season, the credit lies with Mick. He has worked wonders with virtually no budget. I still think the season went down hill in January after Evans failed to invest. We desperately need pace, goals and creativity in that midfield. The wings are a problem. Many are past their best and not good enough. We need to strengthen there, plus probably need another option up front and a proper right back. The keeper situation also worries me. Inevitably we will probably lose our better players. Evans needs to reinvest. He didn't with the Cresswell money. I hope we don't make the same mistake again. The squad needs strengthening.

BUT take nothing away from Micks achievements. Good season. It's over to Evans to ensure we add the necessary quality to press on next year. We also need to ensure we don't go the same way as Wigan.

Have a good summer fellow posters!

jocasaja added 14:42 - May 16
Gave it a real good go, and were the best team in the 1st half - as long as we can keep our best players and add a couple more we could make an even stronger challenge next year..well done to MM, TC and all the players...COYB !

jas1972 added 14:43 - May 16
All I can say is that they all did us proud - if you go back to comments at the start of the season, we have overachieved. The last shot of the season was from McGoldrick, which I will take as an omen for 2015/2016. Onwards and upwards!

Blandford added 14:44 - May 16
Gutted. However many thanks to MM, TC, the players and staff for a great season. Really believe that the future is bright and that the good times are on their way back to Portman Road. If we can strengthen the squad over the summer we could be celebrating this time next year. Good luck Middlesbrough!!!!!

StochesStotasBlewe added 14:44 - May 16
At half time, we were on top, completely frustrated them, silenced their crowd. Shame about Mings poor pass leading to the opener. Great response to equalise but superior numbers & extra quality was too much for us in the end. Proud to be a blue. Some modest investment this summer & we go again. I,m gutted but can,t wait for August.

town1328 added 14:44 - May 16
Gutted but good season overall, just didn't have enough in the end! Cmon boro

runaround added 14:45 - May 16
Disappointed but ultimately very proud of the team for this season
A good platform for another promotion push next season. Norwich with all their talent should be better than us but we beat them hands down on team spirit and we should be rightly proud.

happybeingblue added 14:45 - May 16
well done norwich ? really get a grip

dagenhamtown added 14:46 - May 16
so proud of the preformance toda thogt chambers smith excellent.As i sai i the top clubs are interested in mings i m n my way from dagenham now to take him appaling preformnce today fromhim laced quality and looked totaly not intrested as for tabb please release him mik useless.well done mick and staff and evans please please sto being so tight and give sme money for next season its a must.

thechangingman added 14:46 - May 16
The only slight glimmer of consolation is that If Naaridge are promoted we can look forward to a season of watching them get annihilated on MOTD every week!!

Slim comfort indeed...


ooaahpennyfather added 14:48 - May 16
Don't normally post on here but would like to thank MM and TC for bringing us back to where we are. One single incident turned the whole tie and even then we showed the character that MM has instilled in the team, to get back on terms. Gutted to lose once again to the scum..... I really thought that this time it was going to be our turn. Onwards towards promotion next season........

OldClactonBlue added 14:49 - May 16
Perhaps Tyrone should go. Most people on here seem to make him the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong. Interesting that the opposition see him as someone to fear. I suppose you want Bishop and McGoldrick to go too as occasionally one of their passes go astray. You'll be able to replace them with some more runners.

TimmyH added 14:51 - May 16
So ours and Mick's dire play-off record goes on...

Today gave it 100% effort (again) and overall can't complain generally overall about the 2 legs it really shows the difference between the 2 teams in terms of players with quality that have just come down from the Premiership and also between a team that plays more passing football than one that tries to stop a team playing rather than playing on it's own attacking flair.

We have done well over the season and to make the play-offs (by the skin off our teeth) is commendable but it still doesn't hide the fact we've played our arch rivals 4 times and haven't once in fact our form against them over recent years has been horrendous!
Not sure too if we really deserved to go to Wembley our form since the New Year shows we have lost more games than we've won - does this statistic sound deserving of this?

Please please Mr Evans - I think it is high time you slipped your hand in your pocket and looked at getting GENUINE quality for an attacking midfielder and GENUINE quality out wide and then we might have a chance of possible of automatic promotion other than that I can't see us having a better season than what we have just experienced.

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 14:52 - May 16
Very proud of our performance both on and off the turf today. Great away support from the Boys in Blue, quite often outsinging the Budgies until they finally found their voices when they realised they were actually probably going to win. And a brave effort all round on the pitch. No recriminations for Berra. I dont think he "decided" to handle: in a split second like that, it's just a reflex action. I think we would have got a draw and might even have nicked it with 11 men on the field. Let's see if the Budgies are singing when Boro go up at Wembley. Thanks, Mick and team for a great season. Onward and upward 2015/16. COYB!

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