Yanic Wildschut’s 85th minute strike completed a miserable night for Neil Adams’ Canaries this evening as they lost 4-0 to their early promotion rivals Middlesbrough.
The result left City slipping out of the play-off places and back into seventh spot. Boro’ top the Championship pack with Bournemouth after an all-too easy night at the office.
They look genuine title contenders; Norwich shouldn’t be losing by such a clear and comfortable margin to teams that, on paper, they should be matching.
To rub further salt into the wounds, Ipswich’s 2-1 home win over Wolves saw Town leap-frog over City.
With Norwich now facing an equally nasty looking away trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, the Canaries are now starting to pay the price for their miserable run of home form.
Carrow Road should have been their bread and butter points-wise this autumn; that way you can roll with the away-day punches that are inevitably going to come on night’s like these.
Without a regular supply of three points at home, however, it becomes ever more vital that Norwich pick up something off their travels. Diddly squat was tonight’s reward. It will be a long, long trip home for the travelling Yellow and Green Army tonight as they ponder an evening that went pear-shaped from the fifth minute when Patrick Bamford headed Boro’s opener.
It set the tone for what followed. Flat and uninspired, they barely ruffled a home feather. And worse was to follow.
Skipper Russell Martin conceded the foul for the second as Grant Leadbitter tucked away the penalty; the third and killer goal came in the 69th minute as Leadbitter grabbed his second.
In between, Norwich struggled to muster much in front of goal and but for a couple of decent-timed challenges from Michael Turner, it could have been five or six.
“We got what we deserved tonight – no excuses tonight. We were beaten by a better side,” said Adams afterwards, as his best-laid plans came a mighty cropper.
From Friday night to Tuesday night, it was chalk and cheese as a sluggish tempo and individual errors let Boro help themselves to the victory.
“The manner we gave the goals away is a big concern,” he told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards, with tonight’s performance doing little to stem the Russell Martin debate with regards to his success, or otherwise, at centre-half.
The manager wasn’t about to point at any one individual. Collectively, Norwich were poor.
“It doesn’t matter how well we think we’re doing – if we concede goals in the manner we did tonight, then it’s going to be really tough.
“We just didn’t deal well with them at all as an attacking force. Nor did we really open them up despite some good play in that first-half.”
Suddenly the trip to the City Ground, Nottingham, looks a big date in the diary. Norwich are losing momentum. Last Friday night is in danger of becoming the exception rather than the rule – certainly of late.
“They don’t become bad players overnight but we didn’t play well at all tonight,” he admitted.
That wretched run of home form can also sap confidence; good players become even better players when win follows win. Right now City are scratching out victories; gone has the summer swagger when the goals and the belief was flowing.
“We didn’t look as solid or as strong at both ends of the pitch. And that has to be a concern.
“We’ve now got a massive game on Saturday against a team that are now probably rubbing their hands together when they have looked at tonight’s result.”
Adams tried to shake it up at the break; Gary Hooper would replace Alexander Tettey as he looked for a way back into the contest. Youngster Josh Murphy would replace Kyle Lafferty before the hour mark; nothing changed. As the two late goals demonstrated.
Boro had taken the contest by the scruff of the neck from the moment they opened the scoring. And from that moment on, they never loosened their grip on proceedings. City were second best; in every area of the park.
“If the game had gone on for another 10-15 minutes there was only one team that was looking likely to score – and that was Middlesbrough.”