Scars have healed quickly at Norwich City – and it makes for much better viewing
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Working as a sports journalist allows you a lot of privileges, including the access to scroll through footage of Norwich matches.
It didn't feel like a privilege on Thursday morning. Watching Norwich City gift Newcastle a way back from what looked a certain defeat was bad enough, but looking into the exact timing of both the equaliser and winning goal turned frustration into anger.
Those hardy souls who made the 516-mile round trip to St James' Park would of course have witnessed it. While Newcastle players were still celebrating their third goal, Norwich inexplicably hurried the ball back to the centre circle to restart the game. So quick, in fact, that the cameraman hadn't managed to pan back in time to catch the kick-off.
Around 19 seconds later Dwight Gayle's shot had found its way past a sea of yellow and green shirts and squirmed through Michael McGovern's finger tips. Norwich had let a superb victory turn into a dramatic defeat in a matter of not minutes but seconds.
Against Wolves on Saturday, Norwich's players did what they should have done three days previous. The commentator frequently referred to it as 'game management'. If it had been against City we'd all be calling it time wasting. Yet having the nous to see the game out and run down the clock when possible is a necessity in situations like that and it evaded us on Wednesday evening.
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Of course, it also helps when players adopt the basic principles of defending, another skill that was found wanting in the north-east. The manner in which each of the goals was conceded no doubt made for a lengthy analysis at Colney in the days that followed.
In the context of the whole season, the reaction to that heartbreaking defeat was always going to be more important than the result and dropped points, even if Newcastle were the benefactors. None of us needs reminding that against Liverpool in January Norwich sacrificed a two-goal lead to lose in time added on. City went on to earn just two points from the next seven games.
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You could argue that Alex Neil's men never quite got over the psychological damage, especially given that three weeks later West Ham snatched a point at Carrow Road after being brilliantly outplayed and 2-0 down. Neil will know Norwich have exposed a soft underbelly too often under his management.
Being able to prove there wouldn't be any lasting scars less than 72 hours later was critical at Molineux. A real test of Norwich's resolve, even if they did make it far more nervy than it should have been by allowing Dave Edwards to rise uncontested on the penalty spot and pull a goal back.
Robbie Brady's stunning effort will have caught the eye of neutrals watching the game on TV, who probably can't believe this star of the European Championships is still plying his trade in the Championship.
However, we have been waiting a long time to see a left-foot strike like that, but if Brady can reproduce similar quality with his deliveries in future weeks, Cameron Jerome should be able to take full advantage with headers like the one so early on in the game.
Although City were let off the hook when Nouha Dicko took one touch too many, defensively Norwich looked a different team with Timm Klose back.
As a unit they were rarely exploited by the long ball over the top, although the non-existent marking for their goal does cause concern.
After the international break Norwich have the chance to build on that excellent win with a run of three fixtures against teams in the bottom half of the Championship. Perhaps we could even dream of a rare result at Craven Cottage...