Wonder strikes, excellent refereeing decisions, rabonas and chanting, this match had it all. Jon Punt looks at probably the most impressive victory at the Carra this season.
Random star performer
Just for the fact they kept singing when finding their team 3-0 down after 18 minutes, it has to go to the hardcore contingent of the Nottingham Forest fans. We’ve previously featured on Along Come Norwich the excellent work the Forest fans’ movement Forza Garibaldi are doing, but to continue to back your team vociferously after being dominated so comprehensively was outstanding. Their chants about conquering Europe were slightly reminiscent of our history loving neighbours down the A140, but nonetheless it was a superb effort.
Moment of the match
There’s only one moment which can take the spoils, step forward the demigod of a man that is Jonny Howson.
When David Vaughan decided to head the ball into orbit following a second Norwich set piece hitting the first man, lesser men may have chosen to take the easy option and head the rapidly plummeting spherical object back into the mixer. Not our Jonny.
The technique was ridiculous. Howson’s recent penchant for slamming his long range shots against the bar from distance turned out to be him just getting his eye in, and when his volley left Carrow Road in raptures, the only disappointment was the fact the Barclay had to wait until half time to see it all again.
And then there was Wes. Lovely little perfect Wes. Just as he’d left the entire Rotherham defence on their backsides a few months previous, this time the quality of his finish left the Forest keeper needing oxygen and a stretcher to get over what a fine goal he’d just witnessed. And this was all before he had the audacity to nearly pull over a rabona style cross in front of the Barclay. The hope is the tent in front of the City stand post match is permanently installed to reverse Wes’ ageing process.
The previously mentioned fact that the away following made an impressive amount of noise, coupled with an eight minute flurry of goals lifting the mood, meant it was always likely to be a noisy affair. As performances improve the feel good factor is starting to return to Carrow Road and the fans are starting to believe again.
The nervousness has almost disappeared, and only the mean spirited bed wetters are baying for blood at misplaced passes. Things are warming up nicely for the 26 February, it will soon be time to get the place rocking on derby day.
Scott Duncan was wonderfully inconsistent. A couple of excellent calls, one to play advantage for Murphy’s tight angle finish, the other being to overrule his assistant and award a corner during the second half. The rest were less impressive. Russell Martin’s header that was supposedly cleared off the line looked like it was over judging by half time replays. He missed a decent penalty shout when a Forest player diverted the ball onto a team mate’s arm during the first half, and this is before we get to the fact it took him an age to brandish a yellow card after some more agricultural challenges from both sides went unpunished. A mixed afternoon for him if the FA assessors were in attendance, but who cares when you’ve won 5-1.
Biggest positive to take
At this stage of the season injuries can take their toll on teams. The absence of Naismith, the fact Jacob has been mentally fatigued and the loss of someone of Robbie Brady’s talent may have left other sides struggling. Not so Norwich City. It’s testament to the attacking options we possess that Josh can come in and look so assured, while Prichard’s commanding performance suggests he’s starting to find his feet. Hoolahard were reunited and the diminutive duo pulled the strings. On another day Murphy would have taken more of the plaudits, maybe we should just christen the trio as Murphlahard and be done with it.
The rotation of the attacking midfield three was obviously with one eye on Tuesday’s test against Newcastle, but it gives the manager a welcome selection headache in the weeks to come.
Ok, we had to find something, but it was slim pickings.
Cruising to victory with the game effectively finished as a contest, it felt like another clean sheet was almost in the bag. Cue stage right Ryan Bennett. Ok, it was an enforced shake up of the back four once both full backs were taken off (hopefully as precautionary measures) but Bennett’s frailties were sharply exposed when a rotund McCormack managed to shake off his attentions and dink the ball over an overly exposed John Ruddy. It’s becoming essential that Russell Martin and Timm Klose never get injured or suspended again for the entirety of their Norwich careers.
One loss in 8 league games means we can all finally say we’ve turned the bloody proverbial corner we’ve all been wary about bringing up. Maybe. What we’ve witnessed over the last few weeks however suggests the squad has the character which had been rightly called into question by many, and that the quality is there to make an assault on the top 6. We’ve done it the ugly way of late, but this performance was a thing of beauty. Five goals plucked from the top drawer and it could well have been more had Norwich been slightly more clinical.
The naysayers will suggest we’ve just become flat track bullies, only capable of punishing average Championship opposition. While the jury’s still out on that front, the chance to shut them up comes on Tuesday.