The ACN Match Review – Bristol (h)


Energy! It’s not infinite. Balancing its use across a Championship season is a fine art, concedes Paul Buller - but it isn’t half frustrating to watch.

The line-up

Wagner is squeezing every last drop out of this starting XI because, well, he has no choice. It was a relief to see Rowe and Sorensen on the bench when it’s no great surprise that the team is looking knackered.

The atmosphere

Strangely low key but for a few moments. It felt as if Carrow Road was still smoking its post-coital cigarette after that satisfying liaison with Ipswich. Lots of murmuring, a few bursts of excitement; but this was one of those games where crowd and players needed each other in equal measure. Sadly, neither performed to their potential, despite some enthusiastic drumming and 10 minutes of Jonny Rowe and Sainz goal-fun that petered out a little softly. We’ll need much more than this against Swansea.

Hurrah moment

Welcome back to Carrow Road, Mr J. Rowe. He lit up the pitch, for a few minutes at least, and caused panic in the Bristol defence an until he too succumbed to the malaise that seems to have affected every NCFC player but Angus Gunn. Still, HE’S BACK. And thank goodness for that. 

Boooo moment

I do wonder why we continue to boo our playing out from the back when it’s a) clearly tactical and b) isn’t going to change anytime soon. However, some grumbles were justified today; it’s not so much that we play it out from the back, more that we missed a lot of opportunities to play the ball quickly before Bristol had a chance to reset.

It was obvious they were well organised and our best chances came from catching them off guard, including our goal, but we were too ponderous – and 26,000 people in the stadium could see that. So it’s a minor boo but a legitimate one for me, Clive.

Hero of the Match

When the rest of your team look as though they’re mostly asleep, thank goodness for Angus Gunn. I’m not sure how he stopped this being 4-1 to Bristol but he did, using every part of his anatomy to thoroughly frustrate them and, frankly, save us from a dispiriting defeat. He is just very bloody good and let’s hope we can keep him next season.

Our post-match takeaway

Tired players, tired performances; a game we could’ve won or lost by some margin either way. Our goal was our best bit of play all game and that was the Norwich we’ve come to expect. Otherwise it was all a bit heave-ho as nothing-to-play-for Bristol City gambolled around the pitch like ponies in a spring field, running into spaces we would normally have the energy to cover.

However, the theme of this year’s Championship is “not sure if we really want promotion” so this game was perfect for that narrative. We are certainly the fifth- or sixth-best team in this league, so let’s hope a week’s recovery is enough to brush Swansea aside with verve because let’s not forget, kids – The World’s Greatest League awaits us at the end of rainbow. And who doesn’t want to spend next season getting tanked by despotic oil-state funded teams? 


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