Norwich City defeated Southampton in a hard fought game that either side could’ve won. In the end, a solitary goal, albeit a rather special strike from Alex Tettey was the difference.
Alex Neil made just one change to the side that beat Villa with Gary O’Neil replacing Graham Dorrans in midfield.
The first half was a lot of huffing and puffing from both side but without any serious threat to either goal keeper.
City should’ve been ahead after good work by Howson who inexplicably decided to pass when he was better placed to shoot when wide left in the area. His cut back went between Hoolahan and Mbokani and then out of play.
Another good move, this time on the right, saw Howson cross for Mbokani, who could only put the ball over while at full stretch and under pressure from Fonte.
Howson had his own chance after good scrapping by Mbokani but the ball didn’t come down quick enough and he shot wide.
At the other end, Shane Long had perhaps the best clear chance of the game as he was put one on one with Rudd. The new City number one was off his line like lightning and put his body on the line to block Long. He was injured as he put the ball out for a corner but was able to carry on.
Rather importantly, as it would turn out later, the first half also saw a booking for Saints’ midfielder, Victor Wanyama.
One feature of the first half was a poor performance from Nathan Redmond. He’s either hot or cold and today he was clearly the latter.
He didn’t take anybody on, his passing was generally poor and he looked half a yard off the pace all day long. Alex Neil finally had enough on the hour mark when Redmond played a low cross field ball out of play while under no pressure at all.
Neil turned and told Odjidja-Ofoe to get stripped off. Vadis came on and was like a breath of fresh air. Despite not being as quick or skilful as Redmond, he took people on, fought for the ball and generally put himself about – it was to be the first of two game changing moments.
On 73 minutes, the second of those game changing moments came when Wanyama lunged into Vadis, leaving him in a heap on the floor.
Referee, Mr Clattenburg then moved quicker than I’d seen him move all day and sprinted over to the incident and waited for Wanyama to get up with the home crowd baying for a red card.
Wanayama knew what was coming and didn’t get up, so he was shown a second yellow and then the inevitable red while still on his backside. He was off down the tunnel in double quick time, not wishing to hang around for Ronald Koeman’s tongue lashing. It was reckless and very poor from Wanyama but it handed the initiative to Norwich.
With fifteen minutes to go, Norwich went for the jugular and Vadis was the provider, doing what Nathan Redmond didn’t seem to want to do today.
He played a one-two with Howson on the right and then nut megged Clasie into the area. He passed to Alex Tettey on the edge who fired a delightful side foot shot into the top corner with his (wrong) left foot.
It was a terrific goal and would be City’s only shot on target in the game.
Southampton then had a spell of possession but couldn’t break down the City defence. Norwich sensibly then ran the clock down and kept the ball in the corners etc until Clattenburg blew the final whistle.
This was a hard fought if generally unspectacular game, decided by single spectacular goal. Afterwards, Tettey described his goal as ‘doing a Yaya’ in honour of Yaya Toure, who seems to score goals like this every week.
The collection of all three points for Norwich was much more important than how it was achieved though and this win sees us six points clear of the bottom three.
The introduction of Vadis by Alex Neil was tactically astute as a poor Redmond was replaced. His extra enthusiasm and effort made the goal, while Wanayma’s foolishness also played a major part.
On The Ball City!