Only a point gained, but in terms of performance, difficult to associate this team with the one that so under-performed at Craven Cottage last week.
Gone were the weary legs; the ponderous defending; the lack of imagination and the downward gazes.
Instead they were replaced with levels of energy and commitment that were up there on a par with anything we witnessed last season and, for spells, the passing was fluent and precise and the tempo high.
The goal itself was a beauty and I understand even had Paul Merson eulogising on Sky Sports (quite an achievement for us). The one-touch passing and Anthony Pilkington’s perfect cross was a joy to watch, and as Simeon Jackson’s header hit the back of the net the relief around the ‘old place’ was palpable.
Prior to the goal it’s fair to say the atmosphere was a tad muted – understandably so – and I can seldom recall a more low-key fanfare for a new manager’s first home league game. But the goal changed all that, and from 8th minute onwards the place had a more familiar feel to it.
To have the lead cancelled out in such dubious circumstances was indeed disappointing, but did little to dull the ever-increasing Carrow Road roar.
Chris Hughton thought the penalty was soft; Mark Hughes thought it ‘correct by the letter of the law’ (the law according to Mark Hughes presumably); and dear old Alan Hansen was positively glowing in his praise of Mark Clatennburg’s decision making.
From my N&P perspective (sitting there is a family thing – sorry) my initial thought was that Sebastien Bassong was a mili-second late, even though the dapper Mr Cisse didn’t need too much persuading to hit the deck.
What followed was a tragedy for John Ruddy – what a brilliant save that was – but he should take heart from the fact that even if Bobby Zamora’s shot had been blocked, Clattenberg would most likely have smashed it in with his right foot.
The response from the players matched that of the Canary faithful and reminded us all again what a force we can be when we’re all in sync.
Other than collecting a few through-balls Ruddy’s work was pretty much done for the afternoon – with Cisse’s unusual interpretation of the offside rule making life for the back-four fairly comfortable.
Amongst several plus points in the first 45 was the way Grant Holt and Jackson ‘bullied’ the visiting central defenders. So much easier to do when you play two strikers… and also when one of the said central defenders is called Clint Hill.
Despite being unable to make the breakthrough in the second half we should take a great deal of heart from the chances we created. The trick now is obviously to achieve a Swansea-ola type shots/goals ratio.
It was a just shame that the excellent Javier Garrido’s cross fell to the head of Robert Snodgrass – as opposed to Holt or Steve Morison – as we’d most likely now be discussing our first win of the season.
That’s not to take anything away from the performance of Snodgrass who was excellent throughout, and yet still managed to improve the longer the game went on.
The other home debutant, Bassong, also put in a really good shift and – the debatable penalty aside – and added some much need power, pace and authority to the back line.
The performance of Bradley Johnson was also worthy of note, particularly coming hot on the heels of Alexander Tettey’s pre-match introduction. His was one of several chalk and cheese showings when comparing with last week’s jolly by the Thames.
For what it’s worth QPR were very disappointing, particularly considering the huge wads of cash that has been thrown at them by Tony Fernandez. I must confess the pessimist in me did fear the worst as their star-studded team was announced prior to kick-off. Just shows what I know…
It is probably fair to assume that our friends from Shepherd’s Bush will improve as the season progresses, and once their group of disparate strangers are given the time to learn each other’s names.
So, only a single point gained but a performance that’s restored our faith a little – and one that’s reminded us that we do indeed deserve to be here.
Anyone still believe that Fernandez is one that got away?
Please forgive me, but I couldn’t let the moment pass without mentioning yesterday’s result for our friends down the A140 – particularly given the unconfined joy they derived from our thumping at Fulham. In true high school fashion it just seems that they always have to go that one better…