Classy Norwich City grab their big chance
After delivering one of the best, if not the best performance of their season at Leicester, and then seeing most of their promotion rivals fail to make any headway at the top end of the table at the weekend, the Canaries were provided with a golden chance to push themselves up to the automatic promotion places.
And despite being forced to leave it late again until all three points were safe in the bag, given the manner of Norwich’s display and more specifically the dominance they were able to exert on their opponents, it is safe to say that they certainly grabbed it with both hands.
There was no sign whatever of the uncertainty that we saw at times against Doncaster three weeks ago, and not one bit of the frustration that prevented City from slipping through the gears against Preston on home soil last time out, despite their best efforts in both those games.
Even when Bristol City winger Albert Adomah stroked the ball past John Ruddy following one of the visitors’ attacks, which came completely against the run of play, and which opened the possibility of City drawing a third successive home game, you’d have still wagered a few quid at the time on Norwich getting the job done.
That is because, just like at the Walkers Stadium, the Canaries were absolutely buzzing again.
The team started with a healthy urgency to their play and the players zipped the ball about the pitch with real purpose.
And when Grant Holt smashed the ball home from the penalty spot just two minutes into the contest, it inevitably led to City creating many more promising attacking moves.
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City were comfortably in control, and the only things that prevented them putting the game to bed long before those dramatic final few minutes were the lack of a decent final ball, plus plenty of admirable defending from the Bristol City defenders, who regularly managed to throw their bodies in front of the ball to prevent it getting through to David James in goal.
John Ruddy, Elliott Ward and Zak Whitbread were strong and solid, full-backs Russell Martin and Marc Tierney provided an attacking threat on the flanks, and midfielders Andrew Crofts, Andrew Surman and David Fox – whose longer passing when he was switching play was sublime, by the way – won the majority of their individual battles and ensured that City kept pressing forward.
And the front line of Wes Hoolahan, Simeon Jackson and Grant Holt worked their socks off and provided a penalty area threat.
There wasn’t really much more that we could have asked of any of them once again.
It was an inspiring and richly deserved victory. And now there are only nine games left for the boys to try to hold their nerve.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – WES HOOLAHAN: David Fox switched the point of City’s attacks so effectively on Monday night and Grant Holt delivered another menacing display, leading the front line. But it has to be Hoolahan for me. It was yet another brilliant display from a brilliant player, because in this kind of form Hoolahan is virtually unplayable. He ran the show. He was directly involved for two of City’s three goals, and when he had the ball at his feet, you always felt he was going to make something happen. And he often did.