Bolton Wanderers 1, Norwich City 2
17:16 17 September 2011
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Two goals in the space of five first-half minutes gave Norwich City their first Premier League victory of the season – though yet another penalty conceded made for a tense second half against 10-man Bolton Wanderers.
Summer signings Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson were the scorers as City, showing six changes from the 1-0 defeat by West Bromwich Albion, inflicted Bolton’s third home defeat of the season.
Pilkington gave the Canaries the lead eight minutes before the interval, touching the ball home after Leon Barnett and Steve Morison had helped on a corner.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 as Johnson headed home powerfully from a David Fox free-kick.
In first-half stoppage time, Bolton were reduced to 10 men when Ivan Klasnic was sent off after appearing to head-butt Marc Tierney.
But Wanderers reduced the arrears in the 64th minute when Martin Petrov scored from the spot after Leon Barnett was adjudged by World Cup final referee Howard Webb to have brought down substitute David Ngog.
It looked another harsh award but it meant City had conceded a penalty in each of their first five Premier League fixtures, matching the record of Wimbledon at the start of the 1999-2000 season.
Petrov’s goal made for a tense final 25 minutes but with goalkeeper John Ruddy making a fine save from Ngog’s header in stoppage time, the Canaries held on for their first top-flight away win since December 1994.
Lambert made wholesale changes to the eleven that started the 1-0 defeat by Albion six days earlier.
While Ruddy’s return from suspension in place of Declan Rudd was anticipated, there were a further five changes with defender Ritchie de Laet, midfielders Andrew Crofts and Andrew Surman, skipper Grant Holt and striker Chris Martin all relegated to the substitutes’ bench.
There were recalls for Russell Martin in defence, David Fox and Anthony Pilkington in midfield, Wes Hoolahan – who was handed the captain’s armband – and striker Steve Morison.
Pilkington recovered from the back spasms that forced him to miss the Albion game, while striker James Vaughan was on the bench again after having stitches in a badly gashed lip, an injury inflicted by the elbow of Albion defender Gabriel Tamas.
The selection meant that full-back Marc Tierney was the only City player to have started all five Premier League games to date.
Bolton made two changes after the 5-0 home defeat by Manchester United, with Tuncay and Darren Pratley replacing Chris Eagles and Mark Davies.
As play got under way, Russell Martin was partnering Barnett in the centre of defence, with Fox and Johnson in a central midfield pairing, Bennett and Pilkington in wide positions, and Hoolahan supporting Morison in attack.
Bennett, looking for his first goal in Canary colours, almost provided it in the sixth minute when he struck a left-foot shot that Jaaskelainen had to tip over the bar.
City had another unexpected opening two minutes later when the assistant referee flagged for a foul on Bennett but referee Webb allowed play to continue and with most of the players stopping momentarily, Morison was left in a one-on-one with the keeper, but from a tight angle, and Jaaskelainen managed to block the striker’s attempt to poke the ball past him.
Jaaskelainen was shown the yellow card for protesting to the official.
A free-kick by Petrov posed problems for City and they conceded their first corner. Petrov’s kick was cleared by the Bulgarian was soon in possession again and Ruddy had to cut out his dangerous cross at the near post.
Jaaskelainen looked nervous and after rushing out to head into touch under pressure from Hoolahan, he sliced another clearance out for a corner.
The kick was cleared but Fox floated in a dangerous cross, Russell Martin getting in a header that Jaaskelainen was grateful to hold.
With 15 minutes gone, Klasnic was in trouble when he was knocked flat by the leaping Barnett. The collision was accidental and the Croatian was able to resume after treatment.
Johnson sent Hoolahan away on the left with a well-weighted pass but his attempt to pick out Morison with the cross was deflected into the arms of Jaaskelainen.
Boyata was lectured for a late challenge on Pilkington and, as City broke, Bennett’s cross into the six-yard box was cleared at the expense of a corner. Fox’s kick was a poor one, however, and was knocked behind for a goal-kick.
City were stretched after 33 minutes when excellent work by Reo-Coker enabled him to send Petrov free on the left and Ruddy had to claw away his cross one-handed with Kevin Davies coming in at the far post.
Barnett headed over from another Fox corner and as City continued to press, Bennett’s shot was deflected out for another corner – and this time it provided the breakthrough in the 37th minute with Pilkington’s first goal for the club.
Barnett got his head to the kick, Morison turned it back from beyond the far post and Pilkington turned it into the net, via the post and, it appeared, the heel of Tuncay.
With the home crowd becoming increasingly unhappy, the Canaries made it 2-0 three minutes before the break as Fox swung in a free-kick from the right and Johnson rose to score with a powerful header, also his first goal for City. A Petrov free-kick was deflected wide by Barnett as Bolton tried to find a way back, but as the corner came over, Cahill tangled with Russell Martin and appeared to kick out at the defender.
In first-half stoppage time, there was more drama when Klasnic was sent off. The Bolton man squared up to Tierney in the Norwich area, and the full-back went down clutching his face. Klasnic was surrounded by angry City players and when the hubbub died down, referee Webb produced the red card.
• Half-time: Bolton Wanderers 0, Norwich City 2
Bolton made a double change at the break with Eagles and Ngog replacing Tuncay and skipper Kevin Davies.
Reo-Coker was shown the yellow card nine minutes into the second period for a foul on Hoolahan.
Morison needed to go to the touchline for attention after a bang in the mouth when he collided with Knight, but he was soon back in the action.
Ngog won a free-kick when he was fouled by Russell Martin but there was a delay before it could be taken when Webb spoke to Barnett for wrestling in the penalty area. Petrov stepped up but Ruddy, diving to his left, saved fairly comfortably.
At the other end, Morison’s cross whistled across the edge of the six-yard but both Boyata and Pilkington failed to connect.
With City looking well in control, they were rocked in the 64th minute by the fifth penalty award against them in successive Premier League games.
There seemed minimal contact as Barnett challenged Ngog after Boyata squeezed in a cross from the right, but Webb pointed straight to the spot as Ngog went down.
Petrov stepped up to tuck his shot low to Ruddy’s right and suddenly the fairly subdued home crowd were in full voice.
Barnett got back to block a shot by Reo-Coker as the hosts pressed for an equaliser.
Morison almost made it 3-1 as he turned neatly on to a cross by Hoolahan, under pressure from Knight, but after doing the tricky bit he fired over the top.
With 13 minutes to go, Lambert made a double change with Holt and Vaughan replacing Morison and Pilkington.
A foul by Robinson on Vaughan, with 10 minutes left, earned him a yellow card and gave City a free-kick on the edge of the Bolton area. Fox and Johnson stood over the ball, but Johnson fired his shot high and wide.
Hoolahan went down five minutes from time after a collision with Reo-Coker and as he hobbled off, he was replaced by Crofts.
Four minutes of additional time were signalled by the fourth official, during which Holt was booked for kicking the ball away, and Ruddy made a fine save from Ngog’s header to guarantee three points for the Canaries.
• Bolton Wanderers :Jaaskelainen; Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Tuncay (Eagles, 45), Pratley (Mark Davies, 74), Reo-Coker, Petrov; Kevin Davies (Ngog, 45), Klasnic. Subs (not used): Bogdan, Muamba, Wheater, Kakuta.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Naughton, Barnett, Russell Martin, Tierney; Bennett, Fox, Bradley Johnson, Pilkington (Vaughan, 77); Hoolahan (Crofts, 87); Morison (Holt, 77). Subs: Rudd, De Laet, Surman, Chris Martin.
• Referee: Howard Webb (Yorkshire)
• Attendance: 21,223
• Goals: Bolton: Petrov pen (64). City: Pilkington (37), Johnson (42)
• Red card: Bolton: Klasnic (45)
• Bookings: Bolton: Jaaskelainen (9), Reo-Coker (54), Robinson (80). City: Holt (90)
Podcast - Bolton 1, Norwich City 2