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11 July 2015

Jerome nets hat-trick in curtain-raiser

NORWICH City kicked off their 2015-16 campaign with a routine 7-0 win over Gorleston in their opening pre-season friendly.

Cameron Jerome's hat-trick helped Alex Neil's men to a 5-0 advantage at the break, with Tony Andreu and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe bagging the other first half goals.

Lewis Grabban and Jonny Howson added the sixth and seventh respectively in a more competitive second period, and in all it was a useful afternoon for the Canaries' squad in the first of seven planned warm-up matches.

Neil went down the traditional route of selecting two different elevens for each half at Emerald Park.

Among the starters in the first 45 was Louis Thompson for his first appearance in yellow and green, while John Ruddy and Jerome were the two players on the pitch who began May's Play-Off Final against Middlesbrough.

Andreu tested Gorleston's 'keeper with a shot from range inside the first two minutes, and it didn't take much longer for City to take the lead.

Graham Dorrans carried the ball into the box, and after being dispossessed he capitalised on a defender's slip to square to Jerome, who found the bottom corner.

The Canaries' domination continued and on nine minutes Jerome netted his second via a clinical finish.

Elliott Bennett found City's leading scorer from last season, and he controlled and fired home in the blink of an eye to open up a cushion for the Premier League side.

Their pace and movement was encouraging and they found the net again on 20 minutes when Andreu converted Jerome's cross, but this one was ruled out for offside.

The impressive Andreu got his goal six minutes later, however, and it came after the Frenchman once again linked up with Jerome.

Andreu squeezed between two defenders after picking up the striker's pass before finishing into the right corner, and City held a three-goal lead before the half hour mark.

That advantage was soon extended to four as Jerome found the corner to complete his treble, before Odjidja got in on the act, confidently lofting the ball over Gorleston's stopper from Dorrans' pass.

Andreu and Dorrans missed further opportunities but Neil will have been happy with his team as they successfully dusted off the summer cobwebs in the opening half.

HALF-TIME: Gorleston 0-5 Norwich City

A strong eleven took to the field for the second period, and inside a minute Grabban had flashed a volley wide of Gorleston's goal.

A bobble off the pitch stopped Gary O'Neil making a clean contact when striking for goal and City didn't add to their tally before the hour mark passed.

It took until the 69th minute for them to grab their sixth - Jacob Murphy had found plenty of space down the right side in the half up to that point, and he crossed towards the back post where Grabban converted the simplest of finishes.

The Canaries then capitalised on a defensive lapse with Howson finding the top corner from Gary Hooper's lay-off, and they could have had two more if O'Neil and Michael Turner had found the net rather than the woodwork soon after.

Grabban would have added an eighth goal with six minutes left on the clock only for a superb reaction save by the Greens' goalkeeper, and O'Neil steered another effort over in the final minute.

None of Neil's squad appeared to pick up any obvious injury concerns in the contest, which will have been a primary objective - but a comfortable victory gets their pre-season schedule off to a satisfying start.

FULL-TIME: Gorleston 0-7 Norwich City

GOALS: Canaries: Cameron Jerome (4, 9, 31), Tony Andreu (26), Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe (34), Lewis Grabban (69), Jonny Howson (72)

CITY FIRST HALF XI: Ruddy; E Bennett, R Bennett, Miquel, Toffolo; Thompson, Dorrans, Odjidja, Andreu, Josh Murphy; Jerome.

CITY SECOND HALF XI: Rudd; Hall-Johnson, Turner, Bassong, McGrandles; Jacob Murphy, O'Neil, Howson, Johnson; Hooper, Grabban.

Subs not used: Awuah, King.

Referee: Mike George

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