Norwich City get back to what they know
This was a lot more like City fans have become accustomed to over the last three seasons.
Taking the early initiative with a bold team selection, putting the opposition on the back foot – this was several worlds away from the opening-day display at Craven Cottage last weekend.
Just one vital ingredient was missing. The late goal that characterised the last regime sadly didn't arrive despite the Canaries' second-half display giving much cause for optimism.
Chris Hughton's team selection gave out the clear message that poor performances will not be tolerated. Michael Turner, Ryan Bennett, Marc Tierney and Andrew Surman were left out and none of them could have any complaint. In came Sebastien Bassong, Javier Garrido, Leon Barnett and Simeon Jackson resulting in a sense of purpose not seen in West London.
With Jackson and Grant Holt up front, City were able to play higher up the field and when the likes of Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass got on the ball it was clear they could cause some serious damage.
You may also want to watch:
The pre-season experiment of playing Snodgrass off Holt up front appears to have been shelved in favour of deploying the former Leeds man in his more accustomed right-sided role.
On this evidence you can see why.
- 1 New virus named after Norfolk village
- 2 'Vindicated at last' - Pension compensation on the horizon for WASPI women
- 3 No club record bid from City for Armstrong
- 4 Driving instructor shares terrifying videos of NDR near misses
- 5 Holiday park bosses pay tribute to 'popular' worker murdered in Norfolk village
- 6 Tzolis poised to complete Canaries switch
- 7 New landlords hope to serve up Thai food in suburban pub
- 8 Latitude labelled 'Covid fest' by health boss as staff forced to isolate
- 9 Covid-19 outbreak at hotel 'goes back to Latitude' - but guests not pinged
- 10 'Truly sorry' glamping owner apologises after negative reviews
While not blessed with the kind of pace you would normally expect from a wide player his technical ability and intelligence to know when to come off the flank gave the visitors a very difficult afternoon.
It was Snodgrass' involvement that led to the first goal as he drifted in off the wing before laying off to Jackson and continuing his run. Jackson flicked the ball on to Holt, who was alive enough on the edge of the area to find Snodgrass once again and the ball was worked wide to Pilkington in acres of space.
The former Huddersfield man made full use of the time afforded to him and, while many would have drilled the ball across the near post, he had the presence of mind to chip the ball to the back post for Jackson to bravely get in front of Armand Traore to head home from inside the six-yard box. It was a picture-book goal with Jackson providing the kind of attacking thrust missing from the Canaries through much of the pre-season campaign.
Norwich certainly weren't having it all their own way in the first period though with Bobby Zamora in particular causing Bassong problems due to his aerial prowess. While Bassong has all the attributes to be a top-class defender the match sharpness that often provides the difference at Premier League level was understandably not there having only sporadically featured for Tottenham over the summer.
A few games down the line and Bassong is unlikely to act in the rash manner he did in giving away a penalty in the 18th minute. Junior Hoilett fed Djibril Cisse in the penalty area and when the Frenchman tried to flick the ball past Bassong he panicked and clipped the striker. Every City fan held their breath and referee Mark Clattenburg duly pointed to the spot. It was soft but there was contact and the official had got it right. The same cannot be said about the actual penalty itself.
After John Ruddy had plunged to his left to brilliantly tip Cisse's penalty on to the post Zamora was on hand to scuff home the rebound. However, it was clear for all to see, apart from Clattenburg apparently, that Zamora had encroached resulting in him having at least a two-yard head-start on any City player before finishing.
Perhaps buoyed by a sense of injustice City finished the half the stronger side with Holt leading from the front giving Clint Hill a torrid afternoon resulting in his half-time withdrawal in favour of Nedum Onuoha.
It was Jackson who looked most likely to restore City's lead however and the Canadian had a great chance at the start of the second half when Pilkington's pass was deflected into his path but from a tight angle he lashed into the side-netting.
Snodgrass was still heavily involved with Traore finding it increasingly difficult to track his runs from off the right flank. Snodgrass was left completely unmarked midway through the half when Javier Garrido's pinpoint cross found him free eight yards from goal but he couldn't keep his header down as the ball clipped the roof of the net.
City continued to turn the screw as QPR retreated deeper and deeper into their own half, their only respite coming in long aimless balls to Cisse, who was repeatedly flagged for offside.
Russell Martin came perilously close to getting his customary goal against QPR when he met Pilkington's cross 10 yards from goal but his looping header clattered against the crossbar.
While a degree of frustration was felt at the final whistle, there was also a sense of relief that their Fulham display could at least temporarily be classed as an aberration.
Bigger tests lie ahead but City had restored a bit of faith and got their season up and running in the process.