A point was no disaster for Norwich City
We’ve already seen enough last-minute goals, late comebacks and surprise results to realise that we can’t take anything for granted in the Championship this season. Nothing is guaranteed.
And as the old clich� goes, there are no easy games.
All you can do is give it your best shot in every game and let the results take care of themselves.
And on that score, considering they are sitting in fourth place in the table, only two points off an automatic promotion place and with only 11 games remaining, City haven’t done too badly at all this season, have they? True, Saturday’s result wasn’t perfect. But when all is said and done, it was another point on the board.
City certainly started the contest brightly enough and they dominated both in terms of territory and possession in the opening 30 minutes. Norwich’s football was neat, sharp and purposeful, and the team was clearly playing with a fair degree of confidence given some of their one and two-touch passing.
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All that was missing was a goal to complement some free-flowing and positive approach play, which, had it arrived, would have more than likely seen City go on to win the game quite comfortably.
After that opening half-hour, though, the game evened itself out and Preston did have more of say in the matter. But although the visitors could claim to have weathered the early Canaries’ storm, they hardly looked the most threatening of sides they have faced this season and they never convinced you that they would score.
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Until former City striker Chris Brown profited from what proved to be one of many poor refereeing decisions, that is, and impressively volleyed his side into the lead.
City struck back almost immediately with the hard-working Grant Holt’s 16th goal of the season, and suddenly the game burst into life and became littered with many frantic and contentious moments.
It required a stronger referee than Mr Pawson proved to be, because in my opinion he lost control of the players at times and made more than a few bad calls.
But at least he did get the decision right to award City the chance to wrap the contest up from the penalty spot.
Now let me lay my cards on the table right from the start. You won’t find me criticising Wes Hoolahan.
He’s simply been too good since he arrived from Blackpool just under three years ago, and by and large he’s been brilliant again this season having scored nine times already and created countless more goals for his team mates.
I certainly wouldn’t have taken the spot-kick in the manner he did, that’s for sure, and I can guarantee you he’ll be feeling lower than a snake’s belly for doing so. But he’s done more than enough to have earned immunity from being pilloried for what basically amounted to a mistake, however costly it proved on the day.
So only a point it was. Of course it probably should have been all three. But then again, it was a point more than promotion rivals Cardiff, Nottingham Forest, Swansea and Leicester managed between them on Saturday.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – MARC TIERNEY: The former Colchester defender hardly has the easiest of tasks, competing for a place in the side with a player who has proved to be one of the best full-backs the club has ever had – Adam Drury. But he has impressed and taken his chance. He was solid when he was required to defend on Saturday, very strong in the tackle when the ball was there to be won, accurate with his passing, and he also showed that he can complement the team’s attacking play on the left flank by delivering a decent ball into the box.