Alan Irvine left frustrated by misfiring Norwich City in a 2-0 Championship defeat at Aston Villa
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Alan Irvine rued Norwich City's lack of punch in a 2-0 Championship defeat at Aston Villa.
The Canaries slipped a distant seven points behind Fulham, who moved into the final play-off spot, on a miserable afternoon at Villa Park. Ivo Pinto was sent off for two bookable offences with Jonathan Kodjia pouncing in either half - in stark contrast to misfiring Norwich.
'I thought we played really well for most of the game, even with 10 men. We dominated possession, we had territorial advantage, we got into some great positions and we fell down where we would normally be at our strongest,' said Irvine. 'The last pass, the last cross in the final third, the last attempt at goal were the things that let us down. None more so than Nelson (Oliveira's) chance at 1-0. Cameron Jerome had a great early chance when he did everything right apart from the last part of the move. We had other moments when I expected us to score.
'They have got some good players here, clearly, they went with (Jonathan) Kodjia and (Scott) Hogan but we controlled the game and they were a real threat on the counter-attack. They realised we were causing them a lot of problems in playing through them and Steve (Bruce) changed his system quite early. At times away from home this season I have been very, very disappointed how we have played but not in this game.'
Irvine revealed Pinto felt he was harshly treated after being adjudged to have fouled Jordan Amavi for a second time.
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'I looked at the referee straight away after the second challenge. I thought he was going to just speak to him,' he said. 'He only made one other foul in the game he wasn't booked for but then I saw him going for his card. I thought he took a long time to make that decision and I did feel perhaps he was giving himself the time to have a chat with Ivo rather than producing a second yellow.
'Overall if he doesn't get the ball then they are probably both yellow cards. Ivo claims he did get the ball. I can't tell from where I was. He is quite insistent he got the ball. He said that to the referee and the fourth official but the ref thinks differently it is going to be a yellow card.'
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Pinto will now miss Wednesday's trip to Huddersfield and Graham Dorrans is set to be sidelined after lasting only 45 minutes of his first start since Boxing Day. The Scottish midfielder suffered an ankle injury that will be assessed in the coming days.
'He has tweaked his ankle. We don't know exactly at this stage and the medical people are not too sure so we will get it assessed over the next day or two,' said Irvine. 'Hopefully it is not too serious. With it being so close to half-time I said to the physio as he went onto the pitch to treat him try and keep him on until we can assess him properly but it was too sore for him to carry on. I had a little bit of time to think at the break who we changed things.
'I felt we were the dominant team, our system and movement was causing them problems and that was why I felt I would keep it as similar. We could use Steven Naismith in that running role to support Cameron Jerome in the manner Jonny Howson had. I was worried we might lose control of the game but I didn't feel we did.'