Norwich City and Ipswich Town, two sides close geographically but currently miles apart in terms of squad quality, squad depth and league standing. It is now a decade since Ipswich Town recorded a victory in the affectionately named Old Farm Derby.
A 3-2 win at Portman Road in April 2009 all but confirmed Norwich’s relegation to the third tier of English football, but it was the beaten visitors that day who have flourished since. Norwich have enjoyed three promotions in the 10 years since their last derby day defeat, and currently top the Championship.
Ipswich meanwhile, have reached the playoffs once in that time, and now sit rock bottom of the very same league.
Following the 2009 East Anglian derby, the next time these two teams would meet at Portman Road would be in 2011. Norwich inflicted a famous 5-1 trouncing on the hapless hosts en route to securing back to back promotions. These two remarkable campaigns were spearheaded by Paul Lambert, who today found himself in the away dugout at Carrow Road.
Lambert erased his name from Norwich City hearts when he took the job of bitter rivals Ipswich this Autumn. The former Villa boss has demonstrated how saying the right things, blooding home-grown talent and making an effort with supporters can go a long way.
Despite achieving unrivalled success with fierce rivals Norwich, only winning two games in three months and crashing out of the FA Cup at the hands of Accrington Stanley, Lambert is hugely popular amongst Ipswich fans. Today saw him return to the club where he made his name in the colours of their arch rivals for the first time.
In the home dugout, Daniel Farke. A mediocre first season from the German was followed by just one win in their opening five games this season. Questions began to rise about the tenability of his position.
Canaries kicking on since September
They have seen a remarkable upturn in form, with last weekends impressive 3-1 win at fellow promotion chasers Leeds reinforcing their credentials as serious title contenders. Norwich have shown patience is key with the appointment of Farke. However, there was nothing patient about Norwich’s start to today’s game, as the visitors raced into a 1-0 lead after just 82 seconds.
Ipswich failed to deal with a Max Aarons cross, Mario Vrancic bravely headed the ball back across the face of goal and Onel Hernandez eventually turned the ball in, thanks to some questionable Ipswich defending along the way.
It was an electric start from the home side, and they continued to smother Ipswich, who could barely string more than two passes together in the opening 10 minutes. But as the game wore on, Ipswich grew into it.
The visitors began to knock the ball around with purpose in Norwich’s third of the pitch. However, their lack of cutting edge up top was evident. Alan Judge had a half chance comfortably saved by Tim Krul, and Trevoh Chalobah blazed well wide from outside the box.
Lambert sees red
The blood and thunder that derby day is so often characterised by was noticeably absent, with only Cole Skuse finding himself in the book for persistent fouling. But on the turn of half time, a late Jon Nolan tackle sparked a mass brawl, with players, coaches, managers and a solitary policeman involved. Ipswich boss Paul Lambert was sent to the stands, along with Norwich coach Chris Domogolla. The somewhat calmness of the opening 44 minutes was long forgotten.
The second half picked off where the first had left off. Ipswich began to dominate possession and looked increasingly dangerous going forward. Will Keane had a well worked opportunity blocked, and Harrison was smartly played in by Challobah, but his shot was sent wide thanks to the outstretched leg of Christoph Zimmerman.
Their most clear-cut chance fell to Alan Judge. Harrison’s flick was picked up by Will Keane, who laid the ball into the path of Judge. The former Brentford man struck his shot well, but just wide.
Norwich show their quality
However, within 30 seconds, Norwich had doubled their lead. The Canaries capitalised on Matthew Pennington’s loose pass and Teemu Pukki demonstrated the potency that Ipswich had severely lacked, burying the ball into the bottom corner.
10 minutes later, Pukki thought he had his second, but his goal from a corner was ruled out for offside.
Ipswich continued to press, but in the 81st minute, the Finnish striker did have his second. Pukki prodded the ball past Bartosz Bialkowski after latching onto an Emi Buendi though ball. It was the 20th goal of a hugely impressive season from the free transfer from, a shoe in contender for signing of the season.
Ipswich unable to get back into the game
Another heated brawl triggered by a flailing Flynn Downes tackle and a half chance for Teddy Bishop were the only moments of note in the final 10 minutes. Norwich saw the game out to send themselves back to the summit of the Championship. The victory was not as comfortable as the 3-0 score line would suggest.
Ipswich had plenty of possession and created chances during long spells of the game. Zimmerman was required to put in a man of the match performance at the heart of the Norwich defence. However, Norwich proved there is a huge gulf between the two sides in terms of quality in the final third, and that quality (or lack of in Ipswich’s case) is why there is such a huge gulf between the sides in the Championship table.
The Canaries maintain the bragging rights for another season, and with both clubs heading in opposite directions, who knows when Ipswich will have the opportunity to change that.