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VERDICT: Norwich 6 Bury 3
IF there was ever a good way to lose a cup tie then this was it.
At various stages throughout the second-round Capital One Cup match it felt as if the floodgates were about to open and League Two Bury would be humiliated.
But late goals from Anton Forrester, William Edjenguele and a cracker from debut striker Jessy Reindorf ensured they left Carrow Road with their heads held high.
The barnstorming finish, which included six goals in the final 18 minutes, looked a distant possibility after the Shakers conceded drilled strikes from Martin Olsson and Anthony Pilkington in the first half.
They were quickly followed by decent chances for captain Sebastien Bassong and Robert Snodgrass as Norwich looked capable of opening up Bury at will.
But for all their pressure and possession, the Premier League hosts could easily have gone in only 2-1 ahead after Craig Jones forced the Canaries’ stand-in keeper Mark Bunn into a smart save just before the break.
Seconds after the restart Bunn was extended further after an attempted clearance cannoned off Jones and was looping under the cross bar before the keeper’s full-stretched intervention.
Yet Norwich puffed out their collective chest and immediately reasserted their authority, with both Pilkington and Snodgrass going close before former Bolton Wanderers star Johan Elmander smashed in the Canaries’ third on 51 minutes to mark his home debut for the club.
Cue a Shakers collapse?
At this point, a mindless minority of the 800-strong Bury contingent decided to focus their attention on fighting with the stewards rather than supporting their team.
But while all hell temporarily broke loose in the away end, there was a similar reaction from both sets of players as the gloves came off and they started to slug it out.
A stinging Shaun Beeley effort was countered by an equally strong jab from Pilkington at the other end, which Bury keeper Rob Lainton was equal to.
It felt like this brief competitive edge may fizzle out when Anton Forrester skied a gilt-edged opportunity from six yards on 64 minutes.
But, undaunted, the young loan striker finished off a scramble in the box eight minutes later finally to open the floodgates – at both ends.
The closing stages resembled a fight scene from the old Batman series, complete with comic-book wham!, thwack!, kapow!, and biff!. Wham! – Elmander taps in Norwich’s fourth on 75 minutes.
Thwack! – Edjenguele follows in Tommy Miller’s free-kick on 79 minutes for Bury’s second.
Kapow – Leroy Fer and substitute Steven Fletcher finish off good moves to round off the Norwich goal-fest in the 83rd and 90th minutes. Before an almighty “biff!” as Reindorf opens his account for the Shakers in the second minute of injury time with a shot that had its own flame-trail as it crashed in from 35 yards.
It was a dizzying display of firepower from both sides that probably bore no resemblance to the pre-match team talk Kevin Blackwell must have given.
The Bury gameplan was to keep it tight with two holding midfielders and a lone, isolated front man.
Yet Norwich bamboozled them for the large part with neat flicks from Wes Hoolahan and probing runs from Snodgrass, Pilkington and Olsson, all linked together by the international class of Elmander.
But in the end, Blackwell, and the well-behaved majority of Bury fans who saw the whole match were treated to a superb contest.
“What I was pleased with was the response from the Norwich crowd at the end when they gave everybody a standing ovation,” said Blackwell at the final whistle.
“It was a game and a half wasn’t it? I’m proud of the team. And as I said to the players afterwards, we’ll not come up against quality like that every week.”
Norwich: Bunn, Martin, Bassong, Bennett (Whittaker 73), Olsson; Snodgrass, Fer (Redmond 84), Johnson, Pilkington (Becchio 76); Hoolahan, Elmander. Not used: Nash, Turner, Howson, van Wolfswinkel.
Bury: Lainton 5; Beeley 6, Cameron 6, Edjenguele 7, Roberts 6; Miller 5, Procter 6; Jones 6, Mayor 6 (Sedgwick 85), Jackson 6 (Reindorf 77); Forrester 7 (Grimes 85). Not used: Carson, Hinds, Holden, Harrad.
Goals: Norwich 6 (Olsson 23, Pilkington 31, Elmander 51 & 75, Fer 83, Whittaker 90) Bury 3 (Forrester 72, Edjenguele 79, Reindorf 90+2).
Yellow cards: Bury – Procter 16.
Referee: James Adcock.
Attendance: 16,110 (869 visiting).
Star man: Jessy Reindorf – It seems preposterous to suggest a man who only played the final 13 minutes could lay claim to being man-of-the-match. And, of course, that would do the rest of the team a disservice after they put up such a gutsy performance. But the Rwandan international’s injury-time scorcher sent both the Bury and Norwich fans home with a smile on their faces. The fact that the idiot minority who were ejected from the Carrow Road away end in the second half never got to witness it just makes his wonder debut strike all the sweeter.
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