Norwich vs Cardiff – The ACN Verdict

12/09/16

Norwich’s promotion campaign was reinvigorated after a frustrating couple of weeks where a ball hasn’t even been kicked in anger. In a slightly new format for Along Come Norwich match reflections, Jon Punt takes a look at some of the more pertinent things to pick out from Saturday’s victory…….. Random Star Performer – Jonny Howson’s […]

Norwich's promotion campaign was reinvigorated after a frustrating couple of weeks where a ball hasn't even been kicked in anger. In a slightly new format for Along Come Norwich match reflections, Jon Punt takes a look at some of the more pertinent things to pick out from Saturday's victory........
Random Star Performer - Jonny Howson's shoulder

Mr Howson, fresh from having the armband wrestled from his grasp by club captain Russell Martin, was largely anonymous for most of the afternoon. Some may put this down to his talents being wasted out on the right for vast portions of the match, but the former Leeds man was nowhere near his industrious best. Not so his shoulder.

Hardly known for being a fox in the box, Jonny's shoulder managed to get the faintest of touches, glancing the ball into the Cardiff net to make things more comfortable for a few minutes at least. Russ was gracious enough in his post match interview, making sure Howson's shoulder was fully credited with the goal. Nice touch from the skipper.

Moment of the match

Easy one this. Jacob Murphy has made a really good fist of grabbing the limelight from his brother so far this term and after a relatively purposeful performance (with some GOOD corner taking - when was the last time that happened?) this looked likely to continue. Step forward Josh, who looked composed after his introduction into the fray, capped off by a magnificent curling finish which will do wonders for his confidence. This simmering sibling rivalry may just be a very very good thing for the team. The J Murphs are finally starting to make their mark.

Referee watch

Oliver Langford obviously doesn't like big Swiss men getting a bit sweary after being elbowed in the face. Klose's yellow card in itself was somewhat ridiculous after what can only be described as more agricultural challenges or clever fouls going unpunished. Referees have to try and employ some common sense in cracking down on abuse towards the officials, especially when players have sustained injuries.

Langford's inability to play the advantage was also a mild source of frustration, but to his credit he had a relatively quiet afternoon. He also managed to miss Howson's foul in the build up to Murphy's winner, which was jolly nice of the fellow.

Biggest positive to take

Russell Martin's return to first team action may have been met with some derision at 2pm on Saturday afternoon. Many will continue to question his credentials at centre back but in fairness he'd looked assured in the position up until Robbie Brady's injury. The switch to left back may initially have left the masses feeling uneasy but McCafu took to his task well, defending astutely and often offering an option on the overlap. In the absence of Olsson, and with Brady's dead leg ruling him out for Tuesday night, the captain may well have to continue to deputise and he looked able enough on this showing. A well deserved man of the match and another leader on the pitch, which is never a bad thing. Welcome back Russ, I didn't realise I'd missed you, but I sure have.

Weekly whinge

After conceding only 3 goals in the first 5 competitive matches of the season you could have been forgiven for starting to legitimately believe last season's defensive woes were behind us.Evidently not. Continuing on from the horror show at St Andrews, Norwich gifted the visitors two goals which were infinitely avoidable. In addition we were fortunate not to be punished by a rotund Ricky Lambert, whose two headers either side of the interval should have made the net ripple. Poor Ricky was probably thinking more of the raspberry variety of ripple, he's certainly chubbed up after a prolonged period of inactivity. However, had the former Liverpool man been higher on confidence or match sharpness it may have been a different story.

Fortunately as an attacking force we looked slightly more balanced in Naismith's absence, meaning 3 goals and a welcome victory in spite of the 2 sloppy goals gifted to Tony Pilks. Undoubtedly Norwich will come up against sterner tests than the Bluebirds, there's more work to do to eradicate the mistakes that were a cornerstone of our relegation.

Atmosphere rating

Whatever side of the argument you believe about players raising the fans, or fans raising the players, the crowd did not play their part. Screeny McScreenface did his best to lift the spirits after each goal but the atmosphere was subdued at best.

Maybe this had something to do with the transfer window hangover, or possibly the 12 Cardiff fans who turned up didn't offer enough "mad bantz" to help raise the roof. Disappointingly, there wasn't even the moronic mainstay of "You must have come on a skateboard" belted out by the Barclay either. Opportunity missed there lads.

Summary

Cardiff were distinctly average but winning is a habit, it breeds confidence and the deficiencies on show can be forgiven when you come away with 3 lovely points. Given the changes in personnel this team is still in an embryonic stage and patience is key, staying behind the boys will be important in tougher hurdles to overcome in the next few weeks.

You can follow Jon on Twitter @puntino

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