Norwich City Legends went down 2-1 to Inter Forever in an entertaining match in front of almost 18,000 fans at Carrow Road.
With proceeds from the match going towards the development of the Community Sports Foundation’s new facility ‘The Nest’, the day was a huge success under blue skies.
Norwich City Legends, looking resplendent in their egg-and-cress shirts, started with plenty of 93ers. Bryan Gunn was in goal, with Mark Bowen acting as a sweeper behind Spencer Prior, captain Rob Newman and John Polston. Daryl Sutch and Rob Ullathorne took up the flanks, with Adam Drury, Phil Mulryne and Darren Eadie central behind Lee Power. Drury may have been in an unfamiliar midfield role, but it’s fair to say he may have been chosen there for, to use a technical term, “his legs.”
Inter Forever’s starting XI was full of famous names, but perhaps the most famous of all – Jurgen Klinsmann – began on the bench. Inter’s XI to take the field were Fransceso Toldo, Javier Zanetti, Allessandro Bianchi, Nicola Berti, Houssine Kharja, Marco Materazzi, Mikael Silvestre, Ousmane Dabo, David Suazo, Francesco Colonnese, Massimo Paganin.
After a slow-paced opening few minutes – with one glorious flick from Father Phil Mulryne – Houssine Kharja had the first effort on goal. His 20-yard effort failed to trouble Gunn, however, as he watched it sail over his crossbar.
Gunn was then called into action in the fifth minute when Suazo was played through and drilled low, but Gunn did really well to get down quickly – using all of his athletic frame to make a great save.
There was some friendly controversy a minute later when Colonnese went flying in on Eadie on the halfway line. It may have been a red in a league game, but Colonnese apologised immediately and it looked like he might have slipped when making the challenge. Possibly.
Mulryne then troubled Toldo with a curling free-kick from 25 yards, but it was straight down the ‘keeper’s throat.
Polston then dived in with a decade-late tackle on Suazo just outside the area, giving Inter a free-kick right on the edge of the D. Materazzi nonchalantly stepped up and whipped a stunning free-kick right into the top corner in the 15th minute to give Inter the lead.
That was Gunn’s last moment of the match, going off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Scott Howie. Inter made the same change, replacing Toldo with Sebastien Frey.
City went close from an Eadie corner in the 19th minute, but Ullathorne couldn’t quite connect with an overhead kick in the area. Berti was then replaced by Giorgos Karagounis.
Kharja, the liveliest player in the first 20 minutes, forced a corner and unfortunately Polston brilliantly headed into his own net to double Inter’s lead.
Mike Walker made a couple of changes immediately, bringing on Darren Huckerby and Grant Holt for Daryl Sutch and Lee Power.
Their veritably young legs injected some pace into City’s attacking play, with Eadie curling just over with his left foot from 25 yards with 28 minutes gone. The Legends began to dominate, with Huckerby especially enjoying himself on the Carrow Road pitch.
Bowen was the next to be replaced, on 30 minutes, with three lungs Gary Holt coming in to central midfield.
The Legends almost halved the deficit on 35 minutes, Huckerby crossing from the left and Grant Holt heading goalwards only for Frey to pull off a sensational diving save to deny him. Inter then broke down the other end immediately with Suazo running through and holding off several challenges (ok, fouls), before Howie saved really well at his feet in the last action of the first half.
There were no changes at the break, with City attacking the River End. However, there was a change a couple of minutes into the half with Mulryne replaced by Youssef Safri.
Then came the big introduction: the great Jurgen Klinsmann coming on for Suazo to huge applause. Then came an even bigger introduction: Iwan Roberts replacing Ullathorne.
There was slightly less applause when Andy Marshall was introduced for Howie in the 47th minute, but he took it well in front of the Barclay. A minute later and the skipper Newman was replaced by Darren Kenton in the centre of a back three.
Grant Holt should have done better with a brilliant cross from the left from the boot of Drury, but he missed his header with the goal gaping on 52 minutes.
Eadie’s game was done a minute later, with one diminutive attacker replaced by another as Paul McVeigh came on. Eadie was only off the pitch for a couple of minutes, however, coming back on for Polston.
Grant Holt then missed again from close range, powering a header just over from Huckerby’s cross.
Next to miss a chance, and to prove everyone’s mortal was Klinsmann. He got on the end of a cross and headed back across Marshall, who did well to save to his left (but still got a few smattering of boos after the initial applause!). Marshall then got down well to his left to claw out a powerful free-kick from Silvestre.
It was substitute McVeigh who got City back into the game after good work down the left from Huckerby, who had been played in by Eadie. Hucks squared to McVeigh, who took his time to compose himself before slotting home.
Klinsmann almost restored Inter’s two-goal lead, but his cheeky volley from inside the area struck the post.
Frey then pulled off an outstanding flying save to deny Grant Holt in the 66th minute as the Legends went in search of an equaliser.
Mulryne came back on with 12 minutes remaining, replacing Prior, as Walker went all-out attack.
Mulryne was teed up on the edge of the area, but drove his effort wide of the post as the Legends camped in Forever’s half.
However, Inter came closest to scoring when Klinsmann had two efforts in succession – his first in the area blocked by Gary Holt and his rebound effort striking the post.
That was the last real chance of the game, and although the result didn't go City's way, it was all about raising money for The Nest. You can still donate by clicking HERE.