Norwich City’s clinical counter attacks throttle West Brom

Norwich City defended doughtily and survived heavy periods of pressure at the Hawthorns on Saturday as they beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1. Twice the Canaries hit the Baggies with classic swift counter attacks, as goals from Surman and Morison ensured that they returned to Carrow Road with three precious points.

Yet again Lambert changed his line up for this game. Ruddy returned in goal and Jed Steer sat on the bench following an injury sustained in training by Declan Rudd. Morison started up front with Jackson. Johnson and Pilkington returned in midfield and Naughton to the defence. Holt, Crofts, Bennett and Drury warmed the bench.

The first half was nearly all Albion and City were indebted to John Ruddy for no less than four important saves, including one where he pushed Odemwingie’s drive onto the crossbar for a corner. But two minutes before half time is a good time to score a goal, even if it is against the run of play, and Jackson did very well to get hold of Pilkington’s long clearance and hold it up long enough to slip a pass to Hoolahan. Hoolahan’s pass was inch perfect, as was Surman’s volley into the back of the net.

Albion dominated the second half too. Long and Dorrans replaced Odemwingie and Scharner after 63 minutes. Long nearly scored with his first touch. Five minutes later he did score from a penalty after Ayala’s tackle on Thomas was deemed by referee Dean to merit a yellow card too. Even before play restarted Lambert sent on Holt and Crofts to replace Pilkington and Jackson. The substitution proved to be inspired. With only 11 minutes remaining Naughton broke down an Albion attack and won the ball on the edge of his own area. His pass found Holt, whose fresh legs sped down the left wing like Errol Crossan in his prime. Holt looked up once and crossed perfectly for Morison to power in an unstoppable header past Foster for his ninth goal of the season.

The astute Lambert then replaced Johnson with Fox to patrol the area in front of the City back four and they held out for the remaining ten minutes of normal time and four minutes of added time. To be fair the victory was a bit of a smash and grab, and as such was exact retribution for Albion’s similarly fortunate victory at Carrow Road earlier in the season. And although the Canaries were again unable to keep a clean sheet (which seems to be becoming an obsession with some members of the press these days), they were able to preserve their proud record of never having been “doubled” since Lambert took over as manager.

City have now won three and drawn one of their last four games. Bring on Chelski and their expensive new acquisition!

The January transfer window is well and truly open, but there seems to be little firm news emanating from tight lipped Carrow Road. A persistent rumour suggests we are locked in a battle with Swansea for Brighton’s �1 million rated midfielder Liam Bridcutt. Personally I do not believe the far fetched story that we are after Ipswich striker Michael Chopra. That would be too big a gamble...