Boro and Norwich share lively draw
Graham Westley’s side shared a 0-0 draw with League One champions Norwich City
THE latest instalment in Boro’s pre-season schedule proved to be a lively affair as Graham Westley’s side shared a 0-0 draw with League One champions Norwich City.
Despite being second best in the opening 45 minutes, the home side played some delightful football in patches and created a hatful of chances.
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Graham Westley started with the 4-3-3 formation he has favoured so far this pre-season campaign, with an attacking trio of Lee Boylan, Peter Vincenti and Charlie Griffin.
Griffin has shown no ill effects during pre-season following the serious eye injury he picked up in the FA Trophy and looked very sharp coming in off the left flank.
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Both sides cancelled each other out in the opening 20 minutes but from then on the chances came thick and fast.
Chris Martin robbed the ball from Chris Day on the edge of the box but the Canaries striker fell over and was unable to roll it into the empty net. The striker was involved again just minutes later picking the ball up 25 yards out before shooting at goal but Day easily held the deflected shot.
At the other end Griffin showed great feet to exchange a one-two with Vincenti but before he could collect the ball he was fouled on the edge of the box by Norwich skipper Zak Whitbread. From the resulting free kick Joel Byrom forced John Ruddy into an excellent save low down. The big Norwich goalkeeper did well to push the ball out of the danger zone and out for a throw.
A beautiful spell of passing from Boro brought the crowd to life and they nearly had a goal to cheer as Vincenti knocked Henry’s cross down into the six-yard box forcing Adam Drury to head over his own bar and from the resulting Stacy Long corner Vincenti headed over.
Westley’s side were indebted to Day for keeping the scores level when he thwarted Norwich new boy Simeon Jackson. The Canadian international collected David Fox’s pass brilliantly and bore down on goal before unleashing an effort from a tight angle that the Boro stopper did well to keep out.
Norwich came close to opening the scoring 15 minutes from half time when Michael Nelson headed against Day’s upright before the Boro defence scrambled the ball away.
Day produced another great save to deny Jackson in first half stoppage time, sticking out a mit to keep out the striker’s effort after he wriggled past Mark Roberts.
The home side made a good start to the second half and could have gone ahead early on. Roberts got on the end of a Long corner but his header cannoned back off Ruddy’s far post.
Laird then forced the Canaries’ stopper into action with a rasping drive from distance.
Boro continued to pile on the pressure early in the second half and were awarded a penalty by referee Andy Woolmer after another fine move. Long showed great tenacity to see off the shackles of a Norwich midfielder before spraying the ball out to Ronnie Henry on the right wing. The Boro fullback delivered a fine cross to Griffin who was hauled down by Whitbread leaving the referee little choice but to award the spot kick. Up stepped Scott Laird to take the kick but Ruddy got down well to deny him.
Norwich hit back and could have scored when Drury whipped in a dangerous cross that found Chris Martin, one of two Norwich players unmarked at the far post, but the Norwich right back’s header hit Charles and flew past the post.
Boro looked for Roberts regularly from set plays and from a Byrom corner, Norwich substitute goalkeeper Jake Steer had to be alert to keep out the defender’s far post header.
Boro made changes of their own bringing on trialists Bas Savage and Omar Riza. Norwich had to rely on some last ditch defending to deny Boro as the home side pushed for a winner with a spell of pinball in the Norwich box failing to produce a goal.
First Henry had a shot blocked which fell to Savage but he couldn’t push it over the line. Bridges picked up the loose ball but was denied brilliantly by Steer and Winn saw his follow up headed over by Drury.
A draw was probably a fair reflection on proceedings and the Boro fans will have been happy with some of their side’s free flowing football. Next up for Westley’s men is the visit of Millwall and the return of Boro favourite Steve Morison.
Boro: Day (Bayes 76); Henry, Bostwick, Roberts (Foster 76), Laird (Winn 65); Murphy (Charles 45); Long (Bridges 80), Byrom, Griffin (Riza 70); Boylan (Wilson 45), Vincenti (Savage 57).
Norwich City: Ruddy (Steer 60); Russell Martin (Brindley 60), Nelson (Tudur Jones 60), Whitbread (Francomb 60), Drury (Lappin 60); Fox (Gill 60); Crofts (Korey Smith 60), Surman (Ball 60); Hoolahan (McNamee 60); Jackson (Johnson 45), Chris Martin (Dawkin 60).
Ref: Andy Woolmer
Ref: Andy Woolmer