Norwich continue their cup run by finally avenging their 1-0 first round defeat at the hands of Brentford in 2001. Remember that classic? Us neither. Kelvin Goodson battled against being trapped at work and broken tube lines to give you the low down.
Random star performer
Given that, James Husband aside, he’s probably had the most torrid start to the season of any of the summer signings, it’s difficult to look beyond bleach-blonde-no-longer Bosnian Mario Vrančić. He did not one but two things rarely done by players donning the yellow and green – rolled home a penalty so casually he may as well have been wearing flip-flops and scored direct from a free kick. Score another and his place alongside City dead ball legends Ian Crook and Phil Mulryne is all but assured.
Moment of the match
I’ve gone for two, because I play by no man’s rules.
In the 29th minute, Wes Hoolahan – yes, THAT Wes Hoolahan – attempts a sliding tackle – yes, a SLIDING TACKLE – inside the Norwich box – yes, OUR BOX – on Brentford midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo as the ball breaks to him. To the surprise of absolutely no one except maybe Wes’s mum, he takes the man as well as the ball, and concedes Norwich’s first penalty of the season.
If the Bees put it away, the tie is back in the balance, Norwich concede for the first time in four games and familiar doubts about defensive ability and backbone may resurface. Up steps defender Yoann Barbet, who Chris Waddles it into the Brook Road stand to the delight of the yellow and green army that occupy it.
Around 22 minutes (of the match) later, Super Mario curves a free kick over the Brentford wall and into the bottom left-hand corner of Luke Daniels’ net. While the goal was significant given that it pretty much put the west London lot to the sword, what felt more noteworthy was the way Vrančić was engulfed by his teammates, who looked thrilled for their embattled colleague.
It was an encouraging sign of genuine togetherness from a squad of players that’s still getting to know one another following a couple of seasons where solidarity has often been preached but rarely seen in evidence on the pitch. Still early days and all that, but heartening to see.
Despite him awarding two penalties, I don’t remember there being a referee on the pitch, so I guess that means he had a good match. Watching back, the award of Brentford’s penalty looks spot on, while the ‘foul’ on Marley Watkins that saw us get a spot kick looks about as brutish as brushing a snowflake from a toddler’s cheek. That said, none of the Brentford players bar Chris Mepham, the aggressor, for want of a better word, kicked up a fuss, so what do I know?
Biggest positive to take
Tight at the back apart from in injury time, incisive in attack in the second half, a second successive away win, a fifth match without defeat, no injuries or red cards, a much-needed confidence boost for Vrančić, Daniel Farke’s methods seemingly starting to take and a vague sniff of a cup run – pick one of those.
The needless faffing about at the back in stoppage time that lead to Josh Clarke’s consolation goal for the hosts was as infuriating as it was ultimately meaningless. Needless faffing about at the back is very August Norwich City. Let’s not go back to August, fellas. Please.
Oh, and would have been nice to see Adam Phillips get a few minutes, but that’s just nit-picking.
Despite it being a mid-week fixture against familiar opposition in a competition that gets few people’s pulses racing, plus the absence of beer at half-time, a good turnout, a solid vocal showing and a jovial atmosphere among the away support, aided not least by the standing terraces of the lower tier.
For the most part, the home support showed the enthusiasm one would usually associate with a dentist’s waiting room. Shout out to the two Bees fans who chose to sit behind a pillar despite having about 200 empty seats around them.
It’s always difficult to draw too many conclusions from a match in a cup that is far from a priority for either side and in which 50% of the players didn’t start in their respective teams’ last league fixture, but it continues to be refreshing to see Daniel Farke taking it seriously, even as the fixtures start to mount up.
Given the turnover of personnel in the summer, another match in which to get familiar with one another and what’s expected of them, especially one in which both the defence and attack look like they’re coming together, can’t do us any harm ahead of Saturday’s home encounter against a Bristol City side that have only had to sip from the chipped mug of defeat once so far this season.