Only one winner in the tale of two Neils at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Body language experts would have had a field day studying the behaviour patterns of both Neil Adams and Neil Lennon on the Carrow Road touchline.
City's relative control, until Lee Chung-Yong's 86th-minute riposte set up a frenetic end to Friday's 2-1 Championship win, was reflected in Adams' calm demeanour as he took up sentry position at the front of his technical area.
The Canaries' boss left the animation to his counterpart. Lennon was a seething mass of frustration for the most part, even turning round to engage angrily with home supporters sat in the vicinity of the Bolton dugout during a second half that was careering away from his side.
Fans, officials, his own players, none were spared the Northern Irishman's wrath as Bolton struggled to stem the smooth rhythms of City's attacking motions.
The taunts emanating from the Lower Barclay and the acclaim that followed swiftly in the direction of Adams will have made little impression on a manager schooled in the white hot intensity of Old Firm rivalries, but given the respective form lines going into the contest it should have been Adams who exuded visible anxiety.
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Lennon had engineered two wins in his first three matches since replacing Dougie Freedman. Adams had watched his squad toil for the previous five games without a victory to fritter away much of that early season momentum as they watched promotion rivals overhaul them.
It says much perhaps that Adams never wavered in what has been the first real testing spell of his Norwich tenure.
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'It hasn't been as tough as if we had not been playing well. I said that all along and some people no doubt questioned that,' he said. 'I know it's a results business and every manager in the country would take awful performances and 1-0 wins, but when you know we've gone five games with a couple of defeats in that run we had to stick together as a group and just remind the players we are playing well.
'It is frustrating but it is a lot easier to say it is only a matter of time if we can say maintain the performance levels and results will turn.
'We did that. What you don't want as a manager is to have to keep saying that, and I will be the first one to say if we are not coming up to scratch.
'At 2-0 I thought to myself I might be able to enjoy the last couple of minutes for once and they go and score and I don't know where to look or which nail to chew.
'That was probably our only real mistake of the second half as well, which is how things have gone for us but we had the cushion this time.'
Adams insisted confidence had never wavered within City's squad but there was an inevitable surge in the aftermath of Cameron Jerome's 12th-minute opener which ended a bizarre sequence of first-half blanks stretching back to Bournemouth's league visit on August 30.
'It wasn't about confidence,' said Adams. 'What you are trying to do is make it easy for yourselves by scoring the first goal. It relaxes the whole team and there has been so many times in those last five games when we could have, and for whatever reason it hasn't happened.
'At Sheffield Wednesday we ran into a keeper who was pulling off great saves. Once you go 2-0 up then you expect to win the game and we should have probably won it by two or three. Nathan hits the post and it is looking like 3-0 and top spot for however long but the main thing was to get back on track. Despite feeling we had done enough in the games, it is about results.
'You had to give credit to Bolton and it was typical of a Neil Lennon side that they are not going to give up, they are going to give everything and put you under as much pressure as they can. They gave us a scare.'