Norwich City do the double - for the second time this season
Norwich City beat Bolton 2-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday to record their second double of the season after having already won at the Reebok Stadium in September.
This was an excellent performance. I counted 15 good attempts on goal created by the Canaries, and the 2-0 scoreline did not do justice to their domination of the game. In short they were as good on Saturday as they had hadn’t been on Wednesday against Sunderland in front of the Sky TV cameras. And Carrow Road may soon have to be renamed “the Laundry” because of the number of clean sheets that have been kept there in the last couple of games. An almost perfect day was marred only by injuries which forced both of City’s centre halves to leave the field.
Changes in both personnel and attitude were required after losing at the Stadium of Light where City failed to perform at all. So Lambert started with Holt and Jackson up front and Surman, Hoolahan, Fox, and Pilkington in midfield. Drury, Ayala, Whitbread and Naughton made up the back four. City attacked from the start and dominated the first half against a Bolton side who had enjoyed something of a resurgence recently, with wins over both Merseyside clubs and a draw with Arsenal.
Holt, the quicksilver Jackson, and Surman all went close on several occasions. Surman was particularly unfortunate when his shot hit the bar. The only downside during the first 45 minutes was when both our centre halves limped off injured. We await official confirmation from the club, but Ayala’s injury seemed more serious than Whitbread’s.
There being no specialist centre backs on our bench, our replacement centre halves were Martin and Kyle Naughton. Both played splendidly, despite their obvious lack of height when compared to some of the giants in the Bolton team. Fortunately the midgets held on and the giants were frustrated. Naughton deserves particular praise for adapting quickly to his unaccustomed role in the back four.
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Bolton played better in the middle of the second half and both Ngog and Petrov tested Ruddy. Bolton manager Coyle brought on veteran Kevin Davies, but it was City who finally took the lead when after 70 minutes Jackson, whose pace had troubled the Bolton defence throughout, crossed to Surman, whose first shot was blocked, but who was able to smash home the rebound.
Jackson was then replaced by Morison. The goal was no more than City deserved and Holt in particular continued to trouble the Bolton keeper until with five minutes remaining Martin’s shot was too hot for the keeper to handle and Pilkington reacted first to poke home City’s second goal.
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So very well played Norwich, who created many chances and in truth should have won by a higher margin. And well played John Ruddy who kept a second consecutive clean sheet at home. The ghost of the Stadium of Light has been well and truly exorcised. And City remain in ninth position in the Premier League.
After the game several of the Capital Canaries stayed on at Carrow Road for their annual Christmas dinner in Delia’s Restaurant. A good time was had by all, and thanks are due to our organisers and everyone who helped to make the evening such an enjoyable one.
So the January transfer window is now well and truly shut and none of the far-fetched stories which circulated on the message boards have come to fruition. There were no departures from Carrow Road, and both Jonny Howson and Ryan Bennett seem to be good young acquisitions for the future. We look forward to welcoming them both to our team when they are available for selection.
As I write this London is still snowbound and I am off for a warming drink. Like Surman, I shall be hitting the bar, and in tribute to Saturday’s achievement by the Canaries I shall be going for a double. Cheers and OTBC!