Friday 23 March 2018

Fans back Neil but it's too little, too late for Canaries

Norwich City 4 Watford 2

Norwich City's Nathan Redmond in action with Watford's Mario Suarez. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Norwich City's Nathan Redmond in action with Watford's Mario Suarez. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Norwich City's Dieumerci Mbokani (right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal with team-mate Nathan Redmond. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Norwich City's Steven Naismith (left) and Watford's Jose Manuel Jurado battle for the ball. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Matt McGeehan

Norwich were relegated from the Premier League despite Nathan Redmond inspiring a win over Watford at Carrow Road.

The Canaries ended a four-match scoreless run with goals from Redmond, Dieumerci Mbokani - who scored twice - and a Craig Cathcart own goal. But it was too little, too late. Sunderland's victory over Everton rendered the Canaries' ninth win of the season irrelevant as Alex Neil's side joined Newcastle and Aston Villa in being demoted.

Watford scored early goals in either half, with Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo on target. The Hornets and Bournemouth were promoted alongside Norwich last season and they survive. Norwich are down.

Norwich fans sang in support of manager Alex Neil, who has the board's backing, while Quique Sanchez Flores' future at Watford remains uncertain.

David McNally resigned as Norwich chief executive after last Saturday's loss to Manchester United, with some blaming City's plight on a lack of strengthening following their success in the Championship play-offs 12 months ago. But individual errors have punctuated Norwich's season and there was another as Deeney put the visitors ahead. He met a long ball forward, nodding down for Ighalo. John Ruddy failed to gather the loose ball and Deeney tucked in. A resigned silence fell on Carrow Road. The lead lasted four minutes as Redmond set about showing he is top-flight class.

The winger played a one-two with Steven Naismith and drilled the ball through Heurelho Gomes' legs. Having ended a 375-minute wait for a Norwich goal, another followed three minutes later when Redmond shot across goal. The ball rebounded off the post for Mbokani to tuck in.

Wes Hoolahan, who was a fine second foil to Redmond, tried repeatedly to craft a third and did so after 37 minutes. Allan Nyom slipped attempting to intercept Redmond's ball to Hoolahan, who crossed and Cathcart diverted the ball into his own net. Norwich supporters were jubilant, but no sooner had they dared to dream of the great escape than news filtered through that Sunderland had scored.

Naismith and Hoolahan were then denied by Gomes before Norwich were applauded off at half-time.

Watford pulled a goal back after the break when Deeney crossed and Ighalo side-footed in, and news of Sunderland taking a 3-0 lead followed, before Norwich's fourth, Mbokani lifting the ball over Gomes.

"Ipswich Town, we're coming for you" sang the Norwich faithful near the end, trying to take some positives from a disappointing season.

Irish Independent

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