The ACN Match Review – Birmingham City (h)


As we attempt to process a discombobulating new age of feast and famine, Maddie Mackenzie shelves her unease to enjoy a banger of a game (and a ripper of a goal).

The atmosphere

Immediately obvious was the abundance of empty seats. The tannoy called an attendance of 25,600 but an eyeball estimate put it a little lower. For a while, the atmosphere reflected this.

That being said, the impact of the drum (and three good goals) was once again noticeable. I  know it remains a contentious topic but my god, everyone singing “DAVID WAGNER’S YELLOW ARMY” to the beat of the drum for the final part of the game is something special.

There’s still that weird feeling, the vibe that something’s not quite right or is going to go wrong at any given moment – but we’re getting there. 

The line-up

The only change was Gibson for Omobamidele after the latter came off with fatigue at the weekend; after a year or so of fairly chaotic performances and extended periods of absence from the team, Gibson did well. 

Also noteworthy was Max’s 200th appearance for the club, which is fairly bonkers when you consider he’s only just turned 23. It both seems as if he’s always been in the team and his debut only yesterday – the lad is an absolute stalwart. He celebrated the milestone by taking a knock and donning a headscarf of bandages. Well in Max, well in.

Hurrah moment

It’s nice to have more than one of these to choose from, but today’s selection is Christos Tzolis’ goal. For whatever reason he’s had a strange start to his Norwich career, and for a while in the summer it seemed he’d never get a chance to prove himself here. It all makes his goal that much sweeter, his disbelieving face beaming as Kenny McLean accosted him during the celebrations. It’s been a long time since that Bournemouth game where he set the pitch alight alongside Josh Sargent. Hopefully this is the encouragement he needs to kick on. 

Boooo moment

A bloke in the away end had a chicken on his head. Enough said.

Hero of the match

I remember when we were first linked with Marcellino Núñez. Our own Adam Brandon had been singing his praises for years, and wasted no time telling us all about the talent we had on our hands. He described him as “basically my favourite player in Chile last season,” so if you thought you had high hopes for Núñez, Adam had the monopoly on expectations. 

Aside from that free kick against Hull he didn’t set the world alight for the first half of the season. Yes, he was playing under a manager whose approach to creativity on the ball was to say “no thank you, we don’t do that here,” but there’s often very little room for nuance when you’re a football fan. He was yet another example of a big Webber signing gone bad, a Milot Rashica for the championship.

“PLAY HIM IN AN ADVANCED ROLE,” screamed Adam. Over and over again, for months. 

That turned out to work quite well.

Blimey, what a goal. It had that trademark of an absolute stunner: Carrow Road went silent for a second before the roar of disbelief. It always takes longer to digest a goal like that. 

For me, though, it wasn’t all sunshine…

Lungi watch

Ah Lungi. Before his seemingly never-ending injury he had actually managed to produce a moment of magic this season. Four days before breaking his foot, he scored an absolute beauty (I refrain from using colourful language in my reviews these days, but use your imagination) of a goal. 

Against Birmingham. At home. Yet along comes Núñez to take the goal of the season away from him, all while he watches on with his trademark level of disinterest. It’s cruel, really.

But he did come on! He even got to celebrate a goal. 

Well. I say celebrate, but only because it’s easier than saying ‘put his arm in the air for a second then walked back to the centre circle was the ball.’

His status as my favourite player has somewhat devalued him in the eyes of a certain section of B Block, Lower Barclay. After last week’s review a number of people have asked if I actually watch the match or just focus on Lungi, and my seat neighbours would probably give a pretty stern answer to that. One often rankles at the fact that he wears his warmup vest back to front, but conceded today that it may be a superstition. “How can it be?” replied her husband. “He never plays.” Sorry, Jacob. 

Our post-match takeaway

Three goals scored is never to be sniffed at, especially given Norwich’s particularly abysmal recent run of home form. The team functioned well without the presence of the two usual strikers and Ben Gibson’s presence led to a somewhat more settled back line.


Norwich are incredibly frustrating. Whether it was Adam Idah being caught offside for the fourth time (how does he do it?) or the shoddy defending for Birmingham’s goal, there’s still a sense of unease; a feeling that someone’s going to pull the rug out and everything’s going to come crashing down. 

We know Norwich can deliver the kind of performance that they did against Coventry, but we’re also all too aware of the chance they may throw a Wigan (A) at us. The second half here was pretty far from a stellar performance and there are clear areas that need improvement.

There is a long way to go. Wagner will be well aware of the vast range of which this squad is capable, and want a better performance on Saturday. A strange thing to say given the scoreline perhaps, but relying on moments of individual brilliance has been costly for Norwich in the past.

Those are the negatives. The reminder that things are still in transition, that the squad may operate at opposite extremes on a Tuesday and a Saturday. The positives, though, were many. 

Kenny McLean put in another wonderful shift in the middle of the park. Gabi Sara is showing his offensive flair and defensive steel. Adam Idah had a shot that wasn’t offside. It was, all things considered, a good night.

Those have been all too rare at Carrow Road in the last few months, so enjoy the ones that do come around.


  1. Steve Harrison says:

    Yes four good goals, but have to say Maxime Colin’s for Brum was easily the pick of the bunch!

    Good luck to Norwich for the rest of the season, a good club, and some memorable contests!

  2. Fallguy says:

    As always, Maddie, a thoughtful well considered summary, especially that feeling of dread that something’s about to go wrong!
    On the subject of the atmosphere I would like to give credit to the drummer and the vocal group that surround him home and away. I was at Wigan and what was a very drab performance was made almost enjoyable by the way City fans kept behind their team throughout the game. On Tuesday after Birmingham scored there appeared a genuine desire to ‘drag the team over the line’ rather than resort to what often seems Carra’s default mode of allowing our frustration and anxiety to infect the team.
    Two points here, positivity off the pitch is much more likely to foster a confident performance on the pitch and even if the game leaves a lot to be desired it can be made more bearable by raising our collective voices and showing our passion.
    If you sit in another part of the ground than the Barclay Lower please consider raising the noise levels at least some of the time to help make Carra a more positive, vibrant and enjoyable place to watch footie.

  3. John Darby says:

    Steve you need to remove your blue tinted specs, but thanks for the respect n best wishes for NCFC.
    Let’s hope the Blues survive the trapdoor to League 1

The ACN Match Review - Wigan (a)


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