Much-changed City labour to another away point in scrappy battle with lowly Burton
PUBLISHED: 01:28 31 December 2017 | UPDATED: 01:28 31 December 2017
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An ugly battle at Burton has seen a much-changed Norwich City grind out a point from a match devoid of almost any quality at the Pirelli Stadium.
Head coach Daniel Farke sprung a surprise before kick-off, making six changes to the team which started the 2-0 win at Birmingham on Boxing Day, with Monday’s home game against Millwall in mind.
Grant Hanley and James Husband returned in defence in place of Timm Klose and youngster Jamal Lewis, who both started on the bench.
Harrison Reed came in for Alex Tettey alongside Tom Trybull in holding midfield, with Marley Watkins, Mario Vrancic and Wes Hoolahan in the attacking midfield roles in place of James Maddison, Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy.
The result was a disjointed first half which saw Grant Hanley have to head away a succession of aerial balls and Angus Gunn brilliantly tipping over a Tom Naylor header in the fourth minute.
The City keeper was again needed to get a glove to a Jamie Allen corner just ahead of Kyle McFadzean’s head in the 20th minute, before clearing Ben Turner’s follow-up shot.
Reed started limping around the 25th minute having received treatment shortly before after a clash and the Canaries were all over the place as Burton countered with the midfielder struggling but thankfully saw Naylor lash into the side-netting.
Tettey replaced Reed and brought some stability as Albion, looking to end a run of consecutive home defeats, piled on the pressure but with very little quality.
There were big calls for a penalty from the Norwich bench on 30 minutes as Husband went down under pressure from Sean Scannell in the box, only for the left-back to get booked for diving.
The closest the Canaries came was in the 35th minute, when Hanley looped a header goalwards from a Vrancic free-kick, only for Stephen Bywater to punch clear under pressure, but the first half finished goalless.
Amid swirling wind and rain at the Pirelli Stadium, Christoph Zimmermann was relieved to see an offside flag stop Lloyd Dyer in his tracks after being closed down by Lucas Akins on the edge of his own box just after the hour mark.
With the conditions really making it difficult for both sides, Farke rolled the dice in the 73rd minute with a double substitution, bringing on Pritchard and Maddison for Hoolahan and Vrancic.
Fine play from Maddison immediately won a free-kick which Pritchard hit from 30 yards with the wind behind it but saw the ball loop over the ball after hitting the wall.
Pritchard cut in from the left in the 78th minute and tested Bywater with a powerful low shot which drew chants of ‘we’ve had a shot’ from the travelling supporters.
The home keeper was out sharply to just beat Oliveira to Pritchard’s long ball five minutes later but it was the Brewers who went closest in the closing stages, substitute Joe Sbarra’s cross-shot from the right being clawed away from goal by Gunn at full-stretch and Ivo Pinto heading away from goal before blocking Dyer’s -follow-up shot.
But the scrappy nature of the game continued until the final whistle as both teams stumbled to a point, finishing with some angry pushing and shoving after Maddison and Pritchard had taken exception to an apparent dive from left-back Tom Flanagan in the closing stages.
City at least made it four points from two away games – but ti was against a team who had lost all of their previous eight home games.
Norwich (4-2-3-1): Gunn; Pinto (C), Zimmermann, Hanley, Husband; Reed (Tettey 26), Trybull; Watkins, Vrancic (Maddison 73), Hoolahan (Pritchard 73); Oliveira. Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Klose, Lewis, Murphy
Booked: Husband (diving, 30)
Burton (4-3-3): Bywater: Akins, McFadzean, Turner, Flanagan; Naylor, Murphy (C), Allen (Akpan 86); Scannell (Sbarra 77), Sordell (Brayford 46), Dyer. Unused subs: Ripley (GK), Warnock, Miller, Palmer
Booked: Murphy (foul on Oliveira, 54)
Referee: Robert Jones (Cheshire)