Friday 30 September 2016

Canaries on song as Mick McCarthy's Premier League dream over for another year

Jim van Wijk

Published 16/05/2015 | 14:33

WesHoolahan celebrates scoring the opening goal against Ipswich Town at Carrow Road
WesHoolahan celebrates scoring the opening goal against Ipswich Town at Carrow Road
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy

Norwich saw off 10-man Ipswich 3-1 at Carrow Road to earn a shot at Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.

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Following a tense start, the tie, which was level at 1-1 from the first leg, sprung to life when Ipswich defender Christophe Berra was sent off for handball on the line and Wes Hoolahan slotted in the resulting penalty after 49 minutes.

The Tractor Boys levelled the 99th East Anglia derby on the hour when defender Tommy Smith converted from close range.

But Alex Neil's Norwich side - who just missed out on automatic promotion, finishing third behind Watford and Bournemouth - were soon back in front through Nathan Redmond.

Cameron Jerome rolled in a third to seal a 4-2 aggregate win, which sent the Norfolk side into a £120million prize showdown against Middlesbrough at Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday. While Norwich can aim for a Premier League place, it left Ipswich facing another season outside the elite clubs of English football.

Ipswich, who finished the regular season in sixth place, made the better start with Daryl Murphy stretching the home defence.

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy

Slowly Norwich gained some composure, and after 16 minutes Canaries captain Russell Martin fired in a low drive from the edge of the penalty area following a corner, which was hacked off the Ipswich line by Paul Anderson.

After Norwich again struggled to get a foothold, the atmosphere went flat as Ipswich's game plan worked effectively.

Just before half-time, Hoolahan got away down the left, and held the ball up on the edge of the box before playing it back across to the on-rushing Jonny Howson. The midfielder, who scored in the first leg at Portman Road, tried to roll a low effort into the far corner but it was blocked by Tyrone Mings.

Norwich were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half, with Hoolahan playing in Jerome, before Martin Olsson's follow-up shot was cleared.

Full-back Steven Whittaker then stole possession down the left, and Hoolahan played the loose ball to Redmond on the overlap.

The winger cut back inside before shooting towards the bottom corner, but Berra was on the line to deflect the ball past the post with his hand.

Referee Roger East immediately pointed to the spot, before reaching to his back pocket for a red card.

Hoolahan sent goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski the wrong way from the penalty spot as he rolled the ball into the left corner and the home support inside Carrow Road erupted.

The Ipswich fans, though, were not silent for long as Smith equalised on the hour.

A free-kick from the left was nodded down by Murphy and Smith got to the loose ball ahead of Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy, smashing it into the open net from six yards.

Norwich restored their lead within four minutes.

Olsson was played in down the left, and his angled drive was blocked by Bialkowski. Howson touched the loose ball out to Redmond on the right, and the winger drilled a low shot under the Ipswich goalkeeper.

Jerome somehow missed the target from Whittaker's cross when a yard in front of goal.

But with 14 minutes left, former Birmingham and Stoke marksman Jerome was on target with a neat finish under the goalkeeper after a defence-splitting pass from Redmond.

Norwich could have increased their lead during the closing stages, but the home support cared little as chants of 'We're going to Wembley' rang out at the final whistle.

Press Association

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