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Canaries Fall Off Perch

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 16/12/2000

The Mariners saw off Norwich this afternoon by a scoreline of 2-0, with a dreadful Craig Fleming own goal and an injury time strike from David Nielsen. The score-line flattered to deceive, however, as the Canaries wasted opportunity after opportunity in front of the Grimsby goal.

Kevin Donovan partnered Nielsen in attack, with Zhang Enhua turning in a solid performance on his home debut. It was Nielsen who had the first real opportunity of the match in the 10th minute, but with only Andy Marshall to beat, the Danish striker fired his shot straight into the keepers arms.

Menno Willems then tested Marshall with a speculative 40-yard lob, followed by a dipping drive which the Norwich man did well to turn over the bar.

Norwich should have taken a 20th minute lead after Chris Llewellyn found Iwan Roberts who looked certain to score from six yards out, only to see Danny Coyne charge out and block the shot.

Town took the lead in the 23rd minute when Fleming, under no real pressure, managed to wrong foot Marshall with a backpass that left the keeper rooted to the spot as the ball trickled over the goal-line.

Kevin Donovan had an excellent opportunity to extend Town's lead just before the break after being picked out by a searching cross-field ball from Nielsen, but the Grimsby winger pushed his shot wide.

Shortly into the second half, Alex Notman should have put the Canaries on level terms after losing debutante Zhang Enhua, but the Norwich striker scooped the ball straight into Coyne's midriff.

Paul Groves protected Grimsby's slender lead with a 55th minute goal-line clearance after Iwan Roberts had beaten Coyne with a close-range header from a corner.

Norwich wasted yet another opportunity to restore parity after the Grimsby keeper palmed away another corner which fell to Llewellyn, who could only balloon his shot over the bar.

After a nasty altercation which saw both players raise their hands, Knut Anders Fostervold and Lee Marshall can consider themselves lucky to have finished the game having somehow managed to escape with yellow cards.

As the Canaries pressed forward in search of an equaliser, Nielsen broke free down the centre and did well to hold off the clambering challenge of Matt Jackson before hammering the ball past a helpless Marshall for his fifth goal of the season.

The Dane celebrated the goal with the now traditional Justin Fashanu-style salute with a stationary fist in the air, before being mobbed by fellow team-mates.

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