Now Lambert knows what he has to do

Chris Lakey Brentford 2, Norwich City 1: Paul Lambert now knows exactly what he has to do at Carrow Road after watching his new team stumble to a disappointing defeat at Griffin Park.

Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert now knows exactly what he has to do at Carrow Road after watching his new team stumble to a disappointing defeat at Griffin Park.

Owain Tudur Jones' late free-kick did provide some excitement, but on the whole it was a disappointing night for the 1,800 travelling City supporters.

Lambert watched from the stands - and got a quick reminder of how you achieve legendary status at Carrow Road when within minutes the fans were singing the name of axed manager Bryan Gunn.


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From then on it was business as usual - it was a performance lacking cohesion, creativity - aside from Wes Hoolahan's input - and, most of all, leadership.

It was a game which, from City's point of view, was more about effort than any constructive football - proof, perhaps, that change was most definitely needed. Even for one half, it was most definitely an uphill battle in the second.

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Caretaker boss Ian Butterworth made just one change to the City starting line-up, teenage midfielder Tom Adeyemi replaced by Tudur Jones, who was a substitute at the weekend after missing the Carling Cup win at Yeovil a week ago because of international duty.

The Canaries certainly didn't lack for support and were given a rousing welcome just for the pre-match warm-up.

The noise carried on as City kicked off - and they almost erupted when Cody McDonald got in a shot which whizzed just over after only 15 seconds.

What influence the presence of the new boss had was hard to tell, but it was a busy start by City, although Myles Weston reminded everyone it wasn't a one-man show, with a shot that hit the roof of the net.

Hoolahan then slipped the ball neatly through to McDonald on the edge of the box, but he was double-teamed and Brentford cleared.

It was frantic stuff by both teams - Sam Wood went wide for Brentford and within moments Simon Whaley had shot into keeper Lewis Price's midriff at the other end.

Whaley was finding space on both flanks, but so was the dangerous Sam Saunders as the hosts began to press City back.

It was central defender Mark Phillips who almost silenced City fans, running in to head David Hunt's throw-in goalwards, and missing Ben Alnwick's post by only inches.

Saunders then put another on the roof of the net when a free-kick from 20 yards was deflected by one of his own players, and then Gary Doherty put City under unnecessary pressure when he lost possession to Weston. Hoolahan stepped in to clear up the mess.

City were already on the rack with a little more than quarter of an hour gone, with old boy Carl Cort pulled up for a high boot on Doherty as they challenged for a ball inside the six-yard box.

City eased the tension when Grant Holt turned a defender in the area but instead of shooting tried to square it to McDonald, only for Danny Foster to block well. Hoolahan put the resulting corner on Tudur Jones' head, but his effort from two yards was a yard high.

Hoolahan then jinked into position to get in a cross after some patient build-up, but McDonald headed wide before Whaley intercepted a poor pass in the home box and drove in a low cross which somehow Brentford put out for a flag kick.

The tide had begin to turn in City's favour - now they needed to convert the chances that were coming their way.

Simon Whaley was still getting in some decent crosses, while Tudur Jones was again close with a header as he nodded on a long throw from the right by Matt Gill on 34 minutes.

Alnwick was behind one of City's better, and quicker, moves of the half, a long throw finding Hoolahan on the halfway line. The Irishman clipped it in to the edge of the area, Holt headed it down to McDonald who put his foot on it and allowed his strike partner a shot on goal - only for Price to get down and smother.

City did get the ball in the net in the 41st minute, keeper Price stretching high to reach Hoolahan's lopped cross - and then being barged over the line by Jens Berthel Askou.

They were worth the lead at half-time on chances alone, but could have been behind after a looping long shot by Saunders again troubled the top of the net.

Persistence by Whaley almost paid off as he stuck his boot on the end of a ball that was being ushered out. It fell for Tudur Jones on the very edge of the area, only for the midfielder or be upended by substitute Karleigh Osborne. It was a heart-stopping moment for Osborne - but it was only a free-kick, which Hoolahan smashed against the wall.

Holt's deflected shot from 20 yards had Price back-pedalling while Weston had Alnwick equally worried with a shot at the other end as the half finished on a busy note.

Butterworth resisted any temptation to make changes for the second half - it was difficult to see what he could do.

Within three minutes Askou had come close, getting a toe to Whaley's low cross to the near post, but just off target.

But it was five minutes into the half when Brentford finally made the breakthrough. It was all pretty simple, a long throw-in from the right by Hunt reached the penalty spot and left back Ryan Dickson jumped highest in a crowd to put it into the far left corner.

It was a huge blow for City - and the perfect position for new boss Lambert to see exactly what his players are made of.

The response needed to be quick but it was City on the back foot, with Alnwick saving with an outstretched boot from Foster as Brentford really turned the screw.

Saunders poked one wide at the near post after Weston robbed Askou right in the corner while Dickson shot inches wide from all of 30 yards - and there were signs that City's nerves were beginning to fray.

Legitimate penalty claims for handball against Gill, who raised his hands on the edge of the area on 71 minutes, didn't help - and when Hunt smashed home the free-kick it was game over for the Canaries.

"We want seven," chanted the home fans - a call that will take a long time for City to shake off whenever they're behind. Stephen Hughes came on for the ineffectual Gill in midfield and soon after Chris Martin replaced Whaley.

McDonald got the ball tangled in under his feet as he chased Holt's through ball and Martin couldn't control the follow up as City desperately sought a way back into the game.

Martin went closest to dragging City back into the game on 84 minutes when a curling shot was tipped around the post by Price, who three minutes later got down low to smother a shot from the same player.

It wasn't until injury time that City broke through, Holt earning a free kick just outside the area and Tudur Jones cracking a lovely effort home, although Price perhaps should have done better.

With four minutes added on it provided some late excitement - but that was about it.

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