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MATCH REPORT: Norwich City get narrow win over Walsall in pre-season opener

Norwich City managed to get a narrow 2-1 win over Walsall in their first game of pre-season.

Like many teams this week, Norwich and Walsall kicked off their pre-season schedule in a game behind closed doors though this match took place at St George’s Park in Burton which is where the England team train.

The Saddlers need to use pre-season to show their fans that life will go on despite them losing many of their best players but they looked like a team that had the heart ripped out of them as Norwich dominated on the opening part of the game.

And eventually after they had missed a couple of chances, Norwich broke through. A cross from Josh Murphy was fumbled by Neil Etheridge, obviously showing the rust of not playing in a while, and Elliott Bennett was quickest to react in the box to tap home and put the Canaries into the lead.

This seemed to wake Walsall up as from the restart of play they showed a bit more life. However despite that they rarely threatened John Ruddy in the Norwich goal with the closest they came being when Erhun Oztumer’s free kick was on target, but also comfortably into Ruddy’s arms.

For the second half both managers elected to change their teams completely, with the second half teams tending to have a more youthful look though the odd professional was present.

And it was the young guns of Walsall that got off to the better start as they were able to level the game. Norwich were unable to clear from a Jordan Sangha corner and Theo Vassell, who had only signed the day before the game, was able to make the most of it by heading in.

This was when the Black County club should have pressed forward to try and get the win after a very bright start to the second half but as the saying goes, you are most weak after scoring a goal and the adage was proved when Norwich equalised just four minutes later. Graham Dorrans, coming off the back of signing a new three year contract with Norwich, put in a cross that Cameron Jerome was able to flick over the Saddlers keeper Craig MacGillivray to get what would be the winner.

Despite the loss, Walsall will be pleased with the performances of many of their players while Norwich saw plenty to like from some of their youngsters who could break into the first team next season.

Fans will be able to watch Walsall for the first time this summer when they travel to Solihull Motors on the 16th while Norwich will travel as far east as they can in the UK when they take on Lowestoft Town on the 12th.

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