The red mist well and truly came down for Gary O’Neil at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday night as he left his team having to play for an hour with ten men, after a moment of madness.
It was the defining moment of the match and his dismissal left the visitors with too much to do.
Alex Neil restored some of his regular first team to the side after the defeat by Man City in the cup last weekend. Rudd, Hoolahan, Mbokani, Tettey and Brady all came back into the team and it was the visitors who started the best.
Norwich kept decent possession and generally looked comfortable with Bennett testing Butland in that period with a stinging effort. Arnautovic tested Rudd and Hoolahan missed the target from thirty yards after a shank by Butland.
Then came the game changing moment as Gary O’Neil lost his head. If you haven’t seen it, it’s almost indescribably stupid from the most experienced player on the pitch.
The ball was running out of play near to the half way line and Affellay was just seeing it out when O’Neil clattered through the back of him. It was two footed and totally unnecessary from O’Neil.
That ‘tackle’ gave Mr Swarbrick an easy decision to make and he reached for his back pocket and the red card. Absolutely crazy stuff.
Norwich held out till half time quite comfortably but we all knew that we would have to play for an hour with only ten men.
Stoke got the breakthrough that seemed likely just four minutes after the re-start when Walters (who else?) scored from close range after a delicious cross from Arnautovic.
However, Jonny Howson dragged Norwich back into the game on 55 minutes with a super goal. Wes Hoolahan crossed to Vadis and the ‘new’ midfielder chested the ball to Howson on the edge of the box. Jonny then let fly on the half volley and smashed the ball into the top right corner.
Take a bow son.
Summer signing, Joselu fired Stoke back in front on 67 minutes with a precision low drive from 20 yards before Ryan Bennett headed past his own keeper on 78 minutes and that was the game done.
A poor result in a game that we looked to be competitive in until O’Neil lost his mind. Stoke are a decent side these days and are now up to seventh.
A positive for Norwich was the return for the last 30 minutes of Matt Jarvis and obviously Jonny Howson scored a belter.
Other than that, we need to put this behind us and move on. Bournemouth on Saturday looks a ‘must not lose’ to me.