Reason to believe in brave Norwich City
In terms of what supporters hope for from a game of football when they walk through the turnstiles, the match on Tuesday night ticked all the boxes.
It was cracking match in which there was hardly time to draw breath.
Both sides were intent on attacking at every opportunity, and it meant the ball was swiftly transferred from one end of the pitch to the other with meaningful intent and goalmouth activity was in plentiful supply - the proverbial match played at “100 miles per hour”.
As for what it meant for the Canaries when the referee called time on this pulsating affair, at such a crucial stage of the campaign, well, it could have been better, but then again it could have been worse.
Handed a dream start after just 78 seconds courtesy of Sam Vokes’ close-range strike, City, it seemed, were well set for a swift return to winning ways after their unproductive marathon journey to South Wales at the weekend.
You may also want to watch:
With Vokes and Grant Holt causing all sorts of problems for the Watford rearguard, and looking just too physical and too determined for those Watford defenders, Norwich looked a real threat in the final third of the pitch and likely to create a scoring opportunity whenever they played the ball forward.
They were mixing their game well, producing short periods of impressive one and two-touch ball retention interspersed with a more direct route to their two target men.
- 1 MATCHDAY RECAP: Canaries beaten by Barnsley in FA Cup
- 2 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Barnsley
- 3 Norwich City transfer rumours: Canaries interested in Luton midfielder
- 4 Farke's injury fears for Hugill after Barnsley FA Cup loss
- 5 Rupp set for FA Cup recall
- 6 Robin Sainty: Farke has taken City to a whole new level
- 7 Ton up Tim is wonderful for Farke
- 8 STARTING XIs: Hernandez starts as City make five changes for FA Cup tie
- 9 Energetic Barnsley dump disjointed Norwich side out of the FA Cup
- 10 Barnsley v Norwich City in the FA Cup - all you need to know
But then we have to give credit to Malky Mackay’s side, who showed that they not only had the fortitude to drag themselves back into the contest and quickly turn the balance of play in their favour, but also produced some impressive approach play in the process.
And as the home side left the field at the half-time whistle with a spring in their step and a 2-1 advantage, the Canaries were faced with a few problems to solve in flipping the game back on its head again.
This is where, despite the evening ultimately yielding only a point for City at a time when all three would have been ideal, we can remain quietly confident that Norwich still have every chance of achieving their dream.
The Canaries came out for the second half and immediately made it clear they were intent on dominating possession, and playing the game in their opponents’ half of the pitch as much as possible, and then had their cause helped by intelligent substitutions being made.
They also played with a passion, desire, determination and convincing style of football that gave them every opportunity of winning the game, which they very nearly did. The standing ovation given to the players and Paul Lambert from more than 2,000 travelling fans at the end of the night told its own story. Everyone still believes.
And providing everyone continues to give everything they’ve got, as they did in the second half at Vicarage Road, there’s every reason to keep believing.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – MARC TIERNEY: Grant Holt and Sam Vokes were menacing in the first half and both won more than their fair share of aerial challenges and linked play well with each other and their team-mates. For his part Holt deserves a medal for refusing to leave the field when he could hardly move through injury in the last 10 minutes. Anthony McNamee also impressed when he was introduced. But my vote goes to the City left-back, who was as physical and wholly committed to win the ball when it was there to be won as he always is, and who provided a genuine attacking threat and decent service into the box when he supported the attacking play down the left flank.