Norwich City were frustrated by a stubborn Burton Albion side who seemed keen on running the clock down from the fist minute to the last.
Realistically, I don’t blame them. They came to Carrow Road on the back of a hiding at Leeds last Saturday and Nigel Clough will have demanded a reaction.
From a Norwich point of view, I was very surprised that we had the same formation as that which beat Birmingham and in particular that Alex Tettey was used again so quickly.
The history of Tettey’s dodgy knees is well documented, hence my surprise, that and the fact that I didn’t think that we needed a second defensive midfielder against the Brewers.
Anyway, Daniel Farke made just one change from Saturday with Wes Hoolahan coming in for James Maddison.
The first half was dismal.
The Canaries had over 60% of the ball in that first 45 minutes but yet again, the possession statistics were shown to mean nothing as the ball simply wasn’t moved fast enough to expose a Burton side that sat deep and often had ten men behind the ball.
There wasn’t enough pressing and it was dull stuff until the final minutes before the break when City missed two decent chances.
A miss-hit Hoolahan cross fell neatly to Nelson Oliveira he shot on the turn but fired wildly over.
Moments later, Hoolahan weaved his way to the bye-line but his cut back to Vrancic was comfortably gathered by Stephen Bywater in the Burton goal.
The second half was better but City could’ve been behind early on when Ivo Pinto blocked Jamie Allen’s goal bound strike, almost on the line.
The Norwich pressure started to build and Burton retreated deeper and deeper with Bywater having to tip over a drive from Hoolahan.
The best chance of the game though fell to Josh Murphy after he was put clean through by Hoolahan. He fired straight at Bywater, he stood tall and made the save – it was a crucial moment and as good a chance as any player could hope for.
The traffic was one-way towards the Burton goal but City couldn’t make the breakthrough. Oliveira fired into the side netting and Murphy deflected a Vrancic cross against a post.
Every time the ball went out with Burton in possession, they really took their time. Every Bywater goal kick was preceded by a slow hand clap and his celebration at full time was as though he’d just won the FA Cup – pathetic.
Yanic Wildschut was introduced on 78 minutes, with Maddison and Jerome coming on 6 minutes later but these substitutions were far too late. Yanic’s brief but impressive cameo, showed he should’ve been on at least ten minutes earlier as he was direct and scared the life out of the Burton left back.
This was hugely disappointing but after the Millwall game, I wrote that four points from these two games would be an acceptable tally. The fact the win and the draw came the other way from which I expected matters little, really.
I describe it as ‘disappointing’ because of the way that we were yet again unable to break down a seemingly ‘inferior’ team (I only mean that on paper).
This performance was reminiscent of similar performances under Alex Neil at Carrow Road against perceived weaker opposition, when using the same formation.
A big positive has to be a second clean sheet in two games but the lack of goals was annoying.
City had 18 shots at Bywater’s goal but managed just 2 on target. Some of the shooting was absolutely woeful with a wild larruping effort from Murphy at the end, summing it up.
The referee, Andy Davies was also absolutely terrible. The worst referee I’ve seen so far this season. He ignored Burton’s time wasting until almost the end when he flashed one yellow card and he ignored numerous fouls from the Brewers, including two high boots to the head of City players that left them on the floor.
I thought any danger of a head injury meant the game was stopped?
That’s probably me just looking for someone to blame though. The reality is that City had enough chances to win this game but failed to do so.
A quick word about my man of the match though, Tom Trybull. I thought he was excellent. He passed the ball well, always wanted it and broke up play. To me, he looks like the best of Farke’s summer signings, with Stiepermann not too far behind him.