With Bristol City losing the last four matches a home victory might have felt inevitable. Step forward James Maddison, 3-4-3 and a distinctly resolute backline typified by Angus Gunn's wondersave. Here's Dughall McCormick to take you through proceedings.
Random star performer
Another stand out performance from James Maddison. He is a prodigious talent and one we will do well to keep hold of. Perhaps the only concerning thing about the performance at Ashton Gate was quite how little Norwich would have had to offer had Maddison not been on the pitch. He was instrumental to almost all of Norwich’s endeavour either as a supplier or finisher and there’s no denying the individual talent that led to the goal. Just about all our set pieces, many of which threatened in one way or another, sprang initially from the boot of Maddison. We are a team that has so far this season seen too little fire and creativity in the final third but, in this one player, we have the potential for supplies in abundance in this area of the pitch.
Moment of the match
92nd Minute. Bristol City continue a prolonged offensive on Norwich’s area. The fans in yellow gnaw the final fingernail free, Angus Gunn, sprawling on his hands and knees, deflects a point-blank shot away with a desperate, lunged hand. That moment, that world-class moment of goal-keeping brilliance, right there, ensured all three points would be coming home to Carrow Road.
Gunn is a class act and that was, for me, his best and most important save of the season (and there have been a few). There is also a strong bond between fan and keeper that, like with his dad, will continue to yield mutual benefits I’m sure. His quiet, gestured acknowledgement to the fans as his song rang out says much of this bond; and the ‘powers that be’ will do well to tap into that ‘special relationship’ as and when decisions may need to be taken over this great keeper’s future.
Can we have ‘Referee watch’ back please? Simon Hooper… Another inconsistent and frustrating shocker. Too many questionable decisions, and often against City. Relentless bullying of Maddison (I know we have to expect it) going unpunished. Poor.
Ok, Farke-watch then. Couldn’t argue with the selection or subs (when they came). The three at the back looked really solid and Zimm, Klose and Hanley are a huge collective unit (literally) and formation-wise,we set up well. Tactically it was a well-crafted game too. We were solid and not as lateral (or worse) in possession as we have been (although Gunn was a regular recipient of a backward pass throughout the first half).
Great to see DF join the players at the end to enjoy the accolades of the jubilant fans - a sign perhaps of the importance of this result? Symbolic too of the ‘team’ ethic that Farke has worked so hard to instil?
Biggest positive to take
This was a must-win game, and we won it. Let’s not underestimate what a defeat today would have looked like. This week saw the departures of Alex Pritchard Yanic Wilschut. The former was met with some pretty wholesale grumbles - grumbles which may have actually reached roaring levels had we lost. This was a good away win; when a win was needed more than ever, to restore the faith, to quieten the baying mob, to blunten the pitchforks and extinguish the flaming torches. We can do this and we can do this without the likes of Alex Pritchard. To be fair this is already proven ground, our incredible unbeaten run earlier in the season? Done without the injured Pritchard. Don’t get me wrong, he will be missed but he was not indispensable.
I’m worried about Nelson. I am. His body language needed no translation. He is a frustrated player and can barely hide it. Now there’s a fine line between ‘frustrated and consequently incredibly motivated to sort things out’ and ‘frustrated to the point of being so hacked off with the world that I might give up trying’. Oliveira appeared to be edging worryingly toward the latter. There’s no questioning his desire but, firing wide when offered a gilt-edged opportunity, was another straw on that camel’s back.
My first visit to the Robins’ nest and it’s a decent ground with good support (mostly emanating from a snakepit-like corner). The travelling faithful took a while to get warmed up and lacklustre might best describe the first half support. Things got a bit more encouraging in the second half and full-blown joy followed the goal and final whistle.
Norwich fed off scraps for most of the game, yielding the majority of possession to the hosts, particularly for the initial 20 minutes and a period of worryingly relentless pressure at the start of the second half that saw a speculative Bristol shot ricochet off the woodwork. Having said that, City made the most of what opportunities they were offered and were arguably the more dangerous side despite their paucity of possession.
This was an excellent all round performance that demonstrated high levels of commitment and good performances all over the pitch. We have a solidity in defence that is reassuring and it feels like we can provide a threat when on the ball. The fact that much of that threat lies with Maddison is worrying. It is essential that we keep this player and I’d like to see any Pritchard revenue invested in bolstering the strikeforce. If this happens, play-offs are a realistic ambition. Sell Maddison and it will be an altogether more pessimistic outlook I fear.
While you're here. Two things; first, did you know we have a new podcast? It's available via iTunes and Soundcloud. Alternatively you can just listen to it in your browser via our podcast page. Jack Reeve from Talk Norwich City was our recent guest as we debated the latest talking points regarding NCFC.
Second, to keep AlongComeNorwich advert free and to help us fund additional initiatives aimed at improving the Carrow Road atmosphere, we occasionally produce exclusive t-shirts/merchandise.
This time we've produced garments celebrating our rightful place as the Pride of Anglia. As always, we take no profit from these and put all the revenue back into the site and things we can all enjoy.