A record-breaking, Carrow Road crowd of 26,567 saw two goals from Anthony Pilkington secure a second successive big home win for the Canaries with a thoroughly-deserved 3-1 success against Swansea City.
It was a victory ground more out of old-fashioned graft than buckets of craft with the bulk of the Premiership-style thrills and spills arriving in the first 12 minutes with City flying into a 2-0 lead, only to be pulled back to 2-1 following a soft strike from Danny Graham.
In the end it took a second strike from Pilkington in the 63rd minute to ensure that the points stayed in Norfolk – and, likewise, avoided the usual scenario of the nervy 90s with just the one goal in it. They walked it in the end.
Sandwiched between those testing away trips to Old Trafford a fortnight ago and Anfield next week, this result keeps the City pot nicely bubbling; the momentum forwards and upwards as they continue to deliver both performances and results in the highest flight of English football.
“I thought we were excellent from start to finish,” said Lambert, after a result that cemented City’s place in the top half of the Premiership table with the likes of Arsenal and Everton trailing in their wake.
The Canary chief – like the match sponsors – saluted the performance of Steve Morison; cramp finally claiming the flourishing Welsh international striker.
“I thought that was as good a No9 play as I’ve seen in a long time,” said Lambert, with Morison delivering the perfect knock-back for Pilkington’s 48th second opener.
“Grant Holt has played some really big games for us, but I thought he [Morison] was excellent. I thought he was a real handful all afternoon after a really strenuous week with the international team and his contribution has been huge.”
It ended with a touch of cramp in the second-half. Nothing that should keep him out for too long, however. “I think it was a touch of cramp, but we’ll see how he is,” added Lambert.
As mentioned, it took City less than a minute to have Swansea rocking back on their heels. And it was a peach.
David Fox’s snap shot was deflected down and wide to Elliott Bennett, who launched the deepest of far post crosses back across the Swans box where Morison lurked.
With two defenders for company. The header back to the edge of the six-yard box – in both angle and weight – was perfect for Pilkington to smash first time beyond a helpless Michel Vorm. It was the winger’s second goal of the season; in that he became Norwich’s leading goal-scorer.
It was a dream start. Not least for Morison who, with every passing game for club and country, appears to be blossoming into the real deal. Likewise for Pilkington, the monkey that was the Old Trafford miss shrugged off his back. More, of course, was to come.
Eight minutes later and the Canaries had doubled their advantage.
Pilkington tucked Angel Rangel up a treat to win a free-kick on the corner of the Swans box. Fox swept the ball onto the edge of the six-yard box and with both sun and belief against them, Russell Martin rose highest to thump an eight-yard header home.
It was a 2-0 lead that lasted for all of two minutes. Scott Sinclair wriggled in between Bennett and Kyle Naughton before digging the ball back to Danny Graham who stubbed it into the far corner. Norwich were only human, after all.
The one thing missing from Morison’s game was a goal. In the 32nd he came close; Wes Hoolahan set him free through the inside left channel, angle against him, Vorm had to fling himself away to his left to push the ball wide and away from goal.
It was an all-too rare moment of threat, if truth be told, as the excitement waned before the break. City were stuck in their shell and would need to come out to play again after the interval.
It was a cough-and-splutter of a game; genuine moments of quality being all-too easily lost in a Championship throw-back affair. Morison was putting in a shift; big, strong and awkward, he won nigh on everything thrown up his way.
Others were trying too hard; seeking the spectacular when the simple would suffice.
In the end, simple proved all Norwich needed. And credit there to Bradley Johnson. Presented with a chance to blast anywhere at the near post as Swansea failed to clear a corner, the City midfielder instead dinked the simplest of little balls into Pilkington who, from five yards out, had all the time and space he needed to turn his second goal of the game into the far corner.
But Johnson was the man; the assist was top drawer.
There was still time enough for Grant Holt to make the Swans life a misery for the last 20 minutes – and the ball to stick fast to him down by either corner flag. His arrival had been prompted by an injury to Morison.
It looked nothing too untoward. Knackered, might be the less-than-technical term after three big shifts in eight days for club and country.
He will return.
It is, after all, Liverpool next.
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