Magpies send Canaries' feathers flying

Norwich Academy product Nicky Howell showed the Canaries what they are missing as a brace from the tricky right winger helped Dereham Town beat a City XI 2-1 in a pre-season friendly on Friday.

Norwich Academy product Nicky Howell showed the Canaries what they are missing as a brace from the tricky right winger helped Dereham Town beat a City XI 2-1 in a pre-season friendly on Friday.

And the 22-year-old then tipped the Magpies to be challenging for the Ridgeons League title this season.

Howell, 22, who scored for Norwich's youngsters in an FA Youth Cup tie at Old Trafford in 2004 before being released from Carrow Road, bagged goals either side of half-time to deservedly secure a victory for the Magpies in front of a 1,200 crowd at Aldiss Park.

Chris Martin netted to give Norwich the lead after eight minutes and he was among fringe first time players - also including Luke Chadwick, Simon Lappin and Robert Eagle - who played in the entertaining match which was full of free-flowing football.

The rest of the City line up was made up of Academy and reserve players and they will have learned a lot from their Ridgeons League opponents about commitment and application.

Howell was understandably delighted with his winning double and admitted it had been extra special to score against Norwich as he had been released by the club.

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“I am really pleased, but it was not just me out there.

“It was really nice to get a couple of goals against Norwich and it felt good. When I was released from there it was a bit of a blow but I enjoy my football at Dereham.

“We need to carry this on now in the season. I would like to think we will be challenging for the league this year. It was not the Norwich first team we played, but there were a lot of good players out there.

“We were fourth last year and we have improved over the summer.”

Dereham boss Matt Henman was thrilled with the performance of his players and also the size of the crowd - and hopes it will put the team in good stead for the league season to come and also mean they could play more friendlies against City.

Norwich have pulled out of the reserve league and have hinted that they could take part in more matches against local sides like Dereham.

Friday night's match certainly showed it is a worthwhile exercise.

Henman said they had to build on the performance in the league games to come.

“It is no good playing like that against Norwich and then not turn up in league games. If we repeat it then we have a good chance in the league. The game was played at a fast pace and there was a little bit of a physical edge and both teams worked very hard. Hopefully Norwich got a lot out of it. We certainly did.”

He said the team had got better after every pre-season match and he has been delighted with the new six new signings.

The one sad aspect of the night was a serious injury to Dereham full back Adam Gusterson.

On the stroke of half-time the ex-Norwich player suffered a dislocated knee and went to hospital for tests on the extent of the injury.

He is likely to be out of action for several weeks. “He is gutted,” said Henman.

Martin's goal was a delightful lob over Dereham keeper John Higgs after an excellent through ball by Eagle.

Danny Beaumont caught the eye for the home side and it was a through ball from him which set up Howell to equalise for Dereham after 38 minutes.

Beaumont also hit the bar for Dereham and shot narrowly over from 25 yards before the break.

In the second half the home side were on top for long periods and Howell got the winner on 59 minutes when he sprang the Norwich offside trap and chipped Higgs.

Norwich made several substitutions with Luke Daley on for Kris Renton, Francomb replacing Dave Cooper, Kelly on for Martin and Davey replacing Lappin.

City pressed for a leveller and Tom Adeyemi and Daley had good chances but the Dereham defence held firm and the home faithful were not surprisingly delighted with the victory.

City first team coach Paul Stephenson - who managed the Canaries team - said it would be a good lesson for the players, especially with the new arrivals to Carrow Road strengthening the squad

“The standard of players who have arrived has really raised the bar. If these lads wants to keep hold of the shirt they have to step up of they will be left behind.

“We want to breed a winning mentality. They should be gutted tonight and it should be churning in their stomachs that they lost.”

Stephenson took first team training on Friday morning in the absence of Glenn Roeder and Lee Clark and said the session had been “excellent” and it showed what the second string and fringe players have to rise to.

“Tonight has told us a lot about the lads and they must have really good attitude.

“We have got a lot to ponder but it is still early days.”

He highlighted Danny Kelly and George Francomb - who both came on as second half substitutes - for praise.

Stephenson was also full of admiration for the Dereham pitch, team and facilities.

Dereham: Higgs, Gusterson, Furlong, Cousins, Miller, Smith, Howell, Hunt, Wood, Barrett, Beaumont Subs used: Thompson, Tuttle, Watts, Baker, Garner.

Norwich: Nelson, Cooper, Eagle, Smith, Stephens, Habergham, Chadwick, Adeyemi, Martin, Renton, Lappin. Subs used: Francomb, Kelly, Davey, Daley.