Sky Bet Championship
12/01/2019 3:00 pm
Referee: Scott Duncan
|West Brom||Norwich City|
|Gayle 12’||Rhodes 83’|
Norwich City pulled off a smash and grab draw at the Hawthorns after being second best for much of the match.
Before kick-off, I felt this was simply a “do not lose” type of game. With three points between West Brom and us and Sheffield United only a couple of points behind at the start of the day, not losing was going to be crucial.
The first half was almost one-way traffic, with the Baggies best described as being all over us from the first whistle of the game.
They may have lost Harvey Barnes after the Leicester midfielder was recalled from his loan on Friday, but it made little difference as the home side dominated proceedings, grabbing an early goal from the arch poacher, Dwight Gayle in the 12th minute.
The goal itself was far too easy for West Brom, with Mason Holgate, who was excellent throughout, finding himself in acres of space on the right. His cross into the front post was swept home by Gayle, who was quicker to the ball than Ben Godfrey.
After that, City had to soak up huge pressure as the Baggies went all out for a second and but for some good saves by Tim Krul, they would’ve done. The visitors rallied a little towards the end of the half but still went in a goal down.
After the break, West Brom came out the brighter and City had Krul to thank again throughout the second period as Norwich struggled to contain Rodriguez and Gayle. Tim Krul’s saves today were the difference, although his kicking wasn’t great at all. Having said that, he had a very good game and if he was told to play his kicks wide then you can’t blame him, accuracy was the biggest issue.
Norwich did have their moments though and Pukki poked the ball just the wrong side of the post when well placed. Such has been his finishing this season that it was almost inexplicable that the net didn’t bulge.
Daniel Farke made his first change of the afternoon on 67 minutes when Emi Buendia was replaced by Dennis Srbeny. Buendia had been the subject of some tough but fair tackling throughout and he had just been booked for dissent. He looked a little rusty, which was perhaps understandable.
Then on 81 minutes, Farke gambled by taking off Lewis and Cantwell and bringing on Kenny McLean and Jordan Rhodes. It was a dramatic and decisive change because just two minutes later the pair had combined for the equaliser.
A lovely curled cross to the front post from McLean, whose free-kick on the right came back to him, was poked home by Rhodes who scored with his first touch.
There were a few hairy moments in the final minutes and both teams could’ve won it but the game finished 1-1.
This was a terrific away point for City and its importance cannot and should not be underestimated.
Whilst not playing very well, Norwich were able to grind out a point away from home at one of their nearest rivals and crucially they didn’t lose, which is always the sign of a good team.