Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-2 Championship draw against Stoke City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his Stoke City verdict after the Canaries’ frustrating 2-2 Championship draw
1. Thank you, Sergi
What a way to transform the mood music. Dejection might be pushing it a touch far but at full-time in the Potteries you could sense the disappointment among Norwich players after letting two points slip against Stoke. Given Sheffield United had done the business at Hull, it felt crushingly inevitable Leeds would respond after a dire Good Friday defeat to Wigan.
But the hangover continued at Brentford in the late kick off. And front and centre was Sergi Canos. A bit part player under Alex Neil during a frustrating Carrow Road stint. But in one outing for the Bees he delivered far more than he mustered in the green and yellow. One assist for Neal Maupay and then the match-clinching second goal.
Topped off with a post-match interview when he congratulated his former club and revealed Timm Klose had been in touch to urge him to play his part. He did that and more.
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2. Heads up
You would have got long odds at the final whistle against Stoke, Norwich’s players would go to bed on Easter Monday knowing one point confirms their place in the Premier League.
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The reaction of those City players told you they knew it was a missed opportunity. Better than any of the thousands in attendance in the Potteries or the thousands more watching back at Carrow Road. Leading twice, pegged back twice.
In a game that Norwich were in total command of upto the point Ashley Williams was given the freedom of Tim Krul’s box to head home Thibaud Verlinden’s corner early in the second half.
That lit the touchpaper for the home side, who surged forward. Sam Clucas hammered over. Back came Norwich with Teemu Pukki. But the hosts’ responded. After that Brentford win, Farke may find his task of lifting heads much easier.
3. After you. No, after you
Onel Hernandez cashed in on Tom Edwards’ miscued clearance to powerfully thump Norwich in front in the first half.
But it was Hernandez’s costly slip, attempting to dart between two Stoke players on the edge of his own area, that allowed Edwards to profit.
The low finish into the bottom corner of Krul’s net was a hammer strike. But the Norwich midfielder was culpable. Coming just three minutes after Pukki’s headed flick, it was a pivotal moment in the contest.
Maybe even the promotion race.
Hernandez’s decision-making continues to thrill and frustrate in equal measure. This will be a painful lesson.
4. Let’s hear it for Emi
Buendia’s immediate reinstatement to the starting line up after his three-match ban was one of the easiest selection calls Daniel Farke has had to make this campaign.
You could see why in the first half.
Stoke showed the visitors too much respect and afforded them too much time and space. That is Buendia’s most fertile conditions to weave his magic spells. But you could see the positive uplift on the rest of his team mates.
That willingness to make angles, to show for the ball in tight spaces and then pick a progressive pass were all traits Norwich perhaps have lacked in his absence.
When the second half became a more fraught affair, his influence became more sporadic.
But there was still one spell-binding run past five or six Stoke players. One final swish of the magic wand is need to land the title.
5. Pukki poise
A 28th goal of the league season underlined why the Finnish international was named the Championship player-of-the-season.
Mario Vrancic’s cross was beautifully flighted but it owed everything to the trigger run from Pukki across his marker and then the deft glancing flick six yards out to spark wild celebrations in the away end.
There was a far post sighter in the first half, that Jack Butland saved with his legs, but for the most part, Pukki was well-policed by the Stoke backline.
His reputation precedes him now. But he showed once again he has the cunning and the ability to escape detection.