Swansea roasted by Grant Holt super show
Norwich City became only the second team to win at Swansea in the Premier League this season with a barnstorming 3-2 victory on Saturday.
It was an eventful afternoon for Grant Holt, who earned the freedom of the Liberty Stadium with two excellent goals. He was also booked for removing his shirt in celebration of his second goal, and conceded a penalty with three minutes of normal time remaining.
City made three changes for this match. After seven months absence through injury, Elliott Ward made his first Premier League appearance of the season at centre back alongside Russell Martin. Elliott Bennett started in place of Hoolahan in midfield. Lambert opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with Holt and Jackson up front and Surman, Fox, Bennett and Pilkington in midfield.
Swansea took the lead midway through the first half when Dyer sent Graham away and the former Watford striker comfortably beat Ruddy. Soon afterwards Drury required treatment after landing awkwardly on his back when clearing the ball. Ward saved Norwich by diverting Sinclair’s cross over the bar as Graham hovered menacingly. Drury was booked a minute before half time for a challenge on Dyer.
The first half had been relatively uneventful from a Norwich perspective, but the first fifteen minutes of the second half more than made up for that. Only two minutes had elapsed when the Canaries equalised with a bizarre goal. From Fox’s free kick Martin sliced his attempted volley high into the air. Everybody assumed the ball would go out for a goal kick. Everybody except Ward, that is. The centre back somehow managed to hook the ball back from the by line into the six yard box, where Holt gleefully headed home his tenth goal of the season. In the 51st minute Pilkington shot at goal from Bennett’s pass. We shall never know whether the shot would have ended up in the bottom right hand corner because it was diverted by Swans’ defender Taylor into the left hand corner.
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Six minutes later Barnett replaced Drury in the City back four. And in the 63rd minute Holt scored his second goal of the day and eleventh of the season when Bennett’s through ball found him in acres of space on the edge of the box. 3-1 to the Canaries and the Welsh choirs in the stadium, the valleys and hillsides were silenced. City might have had a fourth goal when Naughton’s thunderbolt was pushed onto the bar by Swans’ keeper Vorm, who minutes later made yet another good save from Hoolahan, who had replaced Bennett. Morison replaced Jackson after 82 minutes.
Ward made another timely interception to rob Graham. But moments later the former Watford man did pull a goal back for the Welshmen when he scored from the penalty spot after Holt had pulled Ashley Williams’ shirt. Ruddy made certain that the Canaries would leave with all three points when he saved Caulker’s header at the death, and City held on for all five minutes of extra time to record their third double of the season and their fourth successive win against a fellow promoted side.
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So Norwich have now risen to the dizzy heights of eighth position in the Premier League table, only four points behind Liverpool. They have coped well with a seemingly endless series of injuries to key defenders. Whoever comes into the team has played well. The midfield keeps on creating and the strikers keep on scoring.
The next two home games against Leicester City in the FA Cup and Manchester United in the league should be cracking good games.
Mercifully there has been no press speculation linking Paul Lambert with the England managerial job. Let us hope there is none linking him with possible vacancies at Tottenham, Wolves, Chelsea, or Real Madrid. Such speculation is unsettling for all concerned. The good ship Canary is stable and on an upwards course. Let it remain so until the end of the season at least.