Norwich City still need one more point for Premier League safety

Norwich City lost 2-0 against Blackburn at Ewood Park on Saturday. Certain teams in the bottom six relegation scrap won or drew, so at the end of the weekend City still need one point, or for Bolton, QPR or Wigan to drop one, before Carrow Road can be mathematically certain of hosting Premier League football next season.

This was a meeting of the two highest scoring sides in the Premier League outside the top six. City started brightly, and both Holt and Elliott Bennett went close. After 21 minutes Ryan Bennett had to be alert to hook the ball out of the danger area after Ruddy could only parry Hoilett’s cross. At the other end Howson tested Robinson with a long range shot.

Play flowed from end to end, and Hoillett’s cross was met by a clever two footed overhead bicycle kick from Yakubu which struck the post. But Rovers did take the lead in dramatic fashion four minutes before half-time. Hoilett sent Yakubu scurrying down the left wing and Pedersen’s pin point cross was knocked in by the unmarked Formica at the far post. Neither Drury nor Surman had been able to put in a challenge.

Four minutes after half-time Hoilett scored an excellent second goal for Rovers. His right foot shot from the edge of the area left Ruddy helpless. After 60 minutes Lambert replaced Vaughan and Hoolahan by Pilkington and Morison. Six minutes later Wilbraham replaced Holt, and had two chances, neither of which he was able to convert. That was that, and City were unable to reduce the arrears in front of a sizable away following, revelling in the chance to watch Premier League football for the bargain price of �15.

Overall it was a disappointing performance by the Canaries. Manager Lambert admitted as such. Usually he is loath to criticise the team, but on this occasion he was moved to remark that he didn’t think the team got going. He was also critical of the collective lack of urgency displayed by the City defence in not doing more to stop Blackburn scoring on both occasions. Both were good strikes, but both could have been prevented with a little more attention from the Norwich defence.

“We gave away two silly goals” and “the performance wasn’t there” was how the manager described it. He made it quite clear that he expected better in the three games remaining. No doubt he was less diplomatic in the privacy of the dressing room. This was the first defeat Norwich had suffered this season against a team in the bottom five places in the Premier League. And the only teams who have conceded more goals than us (60) this season are the bottom five teams. Thank goodness we have scored so many (47) goals ourselves. Norwich games certainly provide entertainment for the fans.

There were a couple of plus points for the Canaries. Russell Martin reached a milestone with his 100th league start for the Canaries. It was good to see Vaughan make a start at last, resplendent in his orange boots. Secondly the protest march by the Blackburn fans and the periodic chants of “Kean out” and “Venkys out” made us appreciate the togetherness, solidarity, and mutual respect that players, management and fans display for each other at Carrow Road.

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And most important of all Blackburn remain favourites to be relegated along with Wolves. Norwich are nearly safe. Holt and Morison have scored more goals than Suarez, Torres, and Carroll. Three games left, two of them at home, one point needed, and we don’t have to face Tevez and Aguero again this season, so Come on You Yellows! We can do it.