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A cracking first half

More of the same in the second half please city

They looked the better prepared, given the Middlesborough bus turned up late with just an hour to go until kick off, you could argue the players were still on the bus.

City started the game on the front foot, looking to have learned from the league game at Carrow Road a few weeks ago and never let up, the stats may suggest that it was an even game so far with possession 50:50 and 3 shots each, but City's quality shone through, fans of Top Gear will understand this, but it was as if Jeremy Clarkson had given the team talk, with the performace all focussing on 'Speed and Power' as the solution, and Jerome using both to rob Ayala for the first goal, which he made look easy and speed being a key part on Redmond's goal too.

The second half is just about to kick off and Middlesborough have just had to replace Whitehead at half timedue to injury

Plenty of shots in the first half of a party atmosphere for the City fans, with the cameras picking out Huckerby in the crowd having a ball, and Delia being very warmly greated around the half hour mark when a shot of her was put up on the big screen

On The Ball City!  Premiership here we come at this rate

Playoff Final Vs Middlesbrough - Line Ups Confirmed

And so the match is now only an hour away, the Middlesbrough line up may have to be delayed as there are reports on Radio 5 Live circulating that they are stuck in traffic and having to get a police escort to the ground, whilst our team have been here a little while, and have been for a nice walk round the pitch to settle in for the afternoon and calm any nerves

City unchanged starting line up

Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Olsson; Redmond, Howson, Tettey, Johnson; Hoolahan; Jerome

Subs: Rudd (GK), Grabban, Hooper, E Bennett, R Bennett, O'Neil. Dorrans.

So Wembley Fever Is Upon Us

And for those of us that have to work, it's going to be a long and frustrating day with all the build up and excitement going on around us

So far the twiitersphere has been full of people, and to a lesser extent their dogs, dressed up in Norwich kit ready to go to Wembley, damn you lot being so cheerful when I'm stuck in an office

We will of course be bringing team news updates and anything else news worthy as the day goes on, but so far all we have found out is that Jamie Cureton has dyed his hair green again (good lad!) but seems slightly sheepish about it this time - maybe his age is catching up with him, and Darren Huckerby seems to have a boot full of beers in an ice bath (good lad!)

 

Alex Neil keeping his cards close to his chest

I suppose it had to be expected given the significance of tomorrows game, so what did we learn from his pre-match press-conference today?

  • Biggest game of his managerial career - but hoping for a bigger one in a week's time, sounds fair enough
  • One of the Murphy twins is in the match day squad tomorrow - but he wouldn't say who

Apart from that nothing much to report which I guess is good news if there are no injuries or suspensions to discuss, I just wonder who is making way for one of the Murphy twins, I guess by this time tomorrow we will know.

Steven Whittaker was the player joining Alex Neil at the press conference today and both seemed very focussed on the game in hand, with the prospect of Wembley offering little or no distraction 

Whether there is the same focus on Tyneside for Middlesborough remains to be seen, going into their second leg tonight they have opted to leave Patrick Bamford on the bench, with the cynic in me suspecting that they have half an eye on the final and making sure their star man is available, whether this is a wise decision remains to be seen, hopefully not as I would rather face Brentford!

Good luck to Luke Varney

This may sound a bit strange for a Norwich site to be wishing an Ipswich player good luck, but no one likes to see a bad injury and it looks like the one he sustained in the first leg of the playoff semi final is a bad one.

Press reports say this week that the operation on his injured achilles has been sucessful, but he is still going to be out for up to six months

So here's to a speedy recovery for him from what can only be described as a bit of a freak injury

Ruddy Rumours - First Transfer Rumour Of The Off Season

And we've not even finished playing yet

This morning the Daily Star were carrying a story that Mourinho may wish to resurrect his interest in John Ruddy as the number 2 keeper at Chelsea, like may other City fans i'm sure I'd be very surprised at this stage of his career if Ruddy fancied getting splinters in his backside for the next season or two as a bench warmer at Chelsea

When quizzed about it AN had this to say this morning:

"That will happen regardless of the situation we are in right now, particularly around good players who have had a good season,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what league you are in there is always going to be interest. If Chelsea and Jose want John then they can pick up the phone and get the cheque book out. On a serious note, it is part of the game and it doesn’t concern me in the slightest"

Now, i'm sure Chelsea could offer Ruddy more money than we could, in fact i'm convinced they could, but would they want to for a benchwarmer?  Mourinho seems to have become very canny with the financial side of his transfer dealings since the financial fair play rules came in, and i'm not sure he'd fancy the total package.

Hopefully this will all be null and void anyway as we get promoted through the play offs, and Ruddy will see being first choice for us as a far better career move in the longer term than being second or third choice in West London, I guess we'll have a better idea in a couple of weeks as to what is likely to happen.

Well that fizzled out a bit after a bright start...

Comfortably the highest tempo start to a match from city in a while it unfortunately fizzled out a bit after the Ipswich injury mid way through the first half with the extended stoppage knocking us out of our stride.  That being said we still generallly gave a good account of ourselves.

For the first thirty minutes City were well on top, at one point the possession was 68:32 in our favour and it looked like we were the home team, in fact during the match you would have thought that at times with the noise our supporters made too, but the injury to Luke Varney in the 31st minute where he seemingly fell over unmolested several feet away from anyone knocked us out our stride and gave Ipswich a chance to regroup in the 5 or 6 minutes play was stopped for, it is unlikely that he will feature in the second leg as reports after the match say he has snapped / ruptured his achilles in the freak accident

After play resumed things took a while to settle, however Cameron Jerome with one of his trademark powerful runs down the left split the Ipswich defence open and his well placed pull back / cross split the two Ipswich defenders nicely and allowed Johnny Howson to score with a well placed shot

However not many minutes later City were undone by an Ipswich long ball upfield from the keeper which Martin failed to clear properly and allowed the subsitiute Anderson who had only been on the pitch a few minutes to slot home for the equaiser just before half time

The second half i'm sat here struggling to find much to say about it which is probably reflective of the standard of it - not great, both teams looked for the majority of it afriad of losing and mistakes crept in all over the place with a number of players on both teams guilty of giving the ball away repeatedly or wasting it in good positions, Hoolahan and Tettey being two examples, but there were number of others on both sides too.

So there we are - all square going into the second leg at Carrow Road which we really should win, away goals rule doesn't exist in the play offs so a nil nil draw is no good so that means one thing, and one thing only next Saturday - ATTACK!

Line Ups Confirmed - Let Battle Commence

As promised earlier here's the line us for today's first leg against our noisy neighbours from south of the border

Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Olsson; Tettey, Howson, Dorrans, Redmond, Johnson; Jerome.

Subs: Rudd (GK), Hooper, Hoolahan, E Bennett, R Bennett, O'Neil, Odjidja-Ofoe.

FOUR CHANGES | Whittaker, Tettey, Dorrans and Jerome in for Hooper, Hoolahan, Elliott Bennett & O'Neil

Ding ding - round 1 - let battle commence!

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