While not quite De Klassieker, Mitchell Dijks played an important part in Norwich City’s 1-1 draw with fiercest local rivals Ipswich Town at Carrow Road on Sunday.
The left-back, currently on loan in his first spell in English football with Norwich was in the thick of the action on his first derby day. The giant Ajax ace had a goal disallowed, almost conceded a penalty, played an unfortunate part in Town’s goal and went on some exhilarating runs forward producing dazzling displays which saw him take the Man-of-the Match Award.
His day could have started disastrously after hauling David McGoldrick to the ground in the area. While the majority of the 27,000 crowd were expecting it to be a cast iron penalty, thankfully the referee decided otherwise and waved play on.
Before that, Dijks had also charged forward and delivered a low cross, the first of several which got the home supporters on their feet. His elbowed ‘goal’ was correctly ruled out after the break and he lazily closed down Town’s Jordan Spence before turning his back on the cross from which Jonas Knudsen scored to put the visitors in front. This was his only notable mistake in the pulsating derby winning countless headers and tackles, leaving Spence for dust throughout the game.
If Norwich can’t make an immediate return to the Premier League, this could well prove to be Dijks only East Anglian derby as a City player unless he can be persuaded to make a full-time move from Ajax to continue showing the Norwich faithful the silky skills he is known for at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Norwich manager Alex Neil insisted after the game that they will never give up on their Championship Play-Off bid despite dropping two valuable points.
City have now made it eight games unbeaten in the cross-border tussles, dating back to the Blues’ last win in April 2009. Norwich remain in eighth place, six points behind Sheffield Wednesday, ahead of a vital trip to Hillsborough this Saturday.
“You won’t hear any signs of us giving up,” said the City boss. “Regardless of what happened in this game, we know we have to go and beat Sheffield Wednesday. If we do that, we bring it down to one game.” Neil admitted Town punished his side for one lapse at Carrow Road, with wayward finishing and Bartosz Bialkowski’s defiance in goal denying them a priceless victory.