Goals galore show Gunn has plenty to work with
PUBLISHED: 10:41 13 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 06 July 2010
Dartford 2, Norwich City 7: It's a sign that pre-season has arrived when Norwich City score seven goals in a game rather than a month - and referee Andy D'Urso can walk off the pitch without being accosted by an angry manager.
Dartford 2, Norwich City 7
It's a sign that pre-season has arrived when Norwich City score seven goals in a game rather than a month - and referee Andy D'Urso can walk off the pitch without being accosted by an angry manager.
For once though all eyes were on Bryan Gunn's team selection, the formation, the bellies and the boots.
That Sammy Clingan and Darel Russell were left behind was no surprise - perhaps Wes Hoolahan may have been too had he not needed to prove he has overcome the ankle ligament damage which kept him out of the final matches of last season.
So in with the new breed - or parts of it.
Gunn partnered Chris Martin and Hoolahan in attack, as if to illustrate the need for a big target man, with Simon Lappin wide left and trialist Scott Neilson on the right flank. New boy Owain Tudur Jones slotted in alongside Michael Spillane in the middle, with another summer arrival, Michael Nelson, partnering skipper Gary Doherty in the middle of defence.
Neilson popped in and out of the game - but when he was in, he was very much in evidence, as provider and scorer.
With only three minutes on the clock he'd set off on a direct run which was ended by a foul - and Lappin found the head of debutant Nelson at the far post to put City ahead.
The Cambridge City player showed few fears in taking on defenders - and if corners and free-kicks are the result, then so be it. Whether he has the quality for League One football will be better judged over more trials.
If you can gather any evidence at all from the first pre-season match, it's that the defence probably didn't summer as well as other parts of the team: it was embarrassed on nine minutes when Ryan Hayes' left-foot cross from the right caught out Jon Otsemobor, who could do nothing but watch Lee Noble sweep it past Declan Rudd.
Martin burst into life on 24 minutes when he came out of a clutch of players on the right side of the area, turned and found the inch of space he needed to fire in a left-footed grass-cutter to the far post which keeper Andrew Young did well to keep out.
Dartford were no push-overs and Jamie Coyle forced Rudd down to his left to stop a header from a Day corner as the hosts threatened, although too often any attacking moves by either side ended prematurely, seized up by a bit of ring rust no doubt.
Neilson hit the direct button again to put City ahead on 38 minutes, when he picked up a long ball out to the right from Spillane, made tracks inwards, reached the edge of the area and then cracked a left footer into the bottom corner - an excellent goal from the non-league player.
Then, two minutes before the interval, Lappin's corner was met plumb by Doherty and City went into half-time two goals to the good.
City made their first changes on 53 minutes, Matty Pattison making a rare appearance under Bryan Gunn, coming on for Tudur Jones, and Jamie Cureton on for Hoolahan.
Pattison had an immediate impact with a magnificent 60-yard pass to Martin, who brought it down beautifully and slotted home on 55 minutes.
There are ways and means to impress a manager - that was one, although Martin's control and finish shouldn't be forgotten. The changes then started to come thick and distractingly fast. When that happens the best way to keep the fans interested is to do something spectacular - cue Neilson with a lovely deep cross which Martin headed home on 66 minutes.
Spillane had two efforts blocked before Dartford sub Adam Burchall put the ball on the head of the diving James White on 68 minutes to make it 5-2.
Cody McDonald made his appearance on 70 minutes - much to the delight of a crowd united in their appreciation of efforts past and present - and was soon in the action, clipped by Billy Burgess, prompting referee D'Urso to point to the spot. Cureton's penalty was saved, but he smashed home the rebound.
The striker, desperate to prove to Gunn he has a role to play this season, then provided the moment of the match, after McDonald guided an inch-perfect pass from the right to his feet on the edge of the area. A touch, a look up and the ball was lobbed over the keeper into the back of the net.
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the quality of some of the goals suggests that Gunn does at least have something to work with after the barren wastes of last season.
t Dartford: Young (Mott 56), Burgess, Gross, Beales (Eferakerho 56), Coyle, Dafter (Dent 70), Hayes (Dungri 81), Day, Burns (Burchall 63), White, Noble (Isa 35, Crouch 81).
Goals: Noble (9), White (68).
t Norwich: Rudd, Otsemobor, Doherty (Dumic 66), Nelson, Drury, Neilson (McVeigh 82), Tudur Jones (Pattison 53), Spillane (Gill 74), Lappin, Martin (McDonald 69), Hoolahan (Cureton 53). Subs: Steer, Adeyemi, Stephens.
Goals: Nelson (3), Neilson (38), Doherty (43), Martin (55, 66), Cureton (76, 80).
t Attendance: 1,910
t Referee: Andy D'Urso.