Before Wednesday night’s match, Bristol City striker Nahki Wells warned Norwich City that his side would go to Carrow Road to “turn over” the Canaries.
Well Nahki me ole China, you did not speak with forked tongue. Bristol threw the kitchen sink at us for a large proportion of the game and if we hadn’t taken those early chances through Teemu Pukki who knows what the outcome might have been.
The game began in Keystone Kops fashion with Josh Sargent deciding to go backwards when it was easier to shoot quickly followed at the other end by Sam Byram presenting Tommy Conway with a free hit. Conway was shocked enough to shank his shot well wide of Tim Krul’s right stick.
There was something like 54 seconds on the clock at that stage.
It was then that Pukki fortuitously came to the fore. His first came from a quickly taken Kenny McLean free kick that Bristol defender Kai Naismith misread and the man himself flicked the ball over the static Dan Bentley to then head into the empty net. A lovely little goal, that one.
Ten minutes later McLean intercepted a poor diagonal ball from the aforementioned Naismith and pointed to show Aaron Ramsey where to play in Pukki. I think Ramsey knew what to do anyway Kenny, but the thought was there!
Cue the Reds in upping the ante. Crossfield balls were pinged about with ease as Mark Sykes and Jay DaSilva enjoyed the freedom of the flanks and full-backs Byram and Max Aarons became isolated as the Bristol midfield supported the marauding wingbacks while ours went largely awol. Sykes in particular looked really handy.
It was no surprise when young Conway sent Canary hearts a fluttering when he pulled one back two minutes before the break when he lost Grant Hanley to score with a bullet header from close range.
The second half saw largely more of the same and it was concerning stuff to watch.
Even when Sargent restored the two-goal cushion with a firm 65th-minute header from a Gabriel Sara corner the game was never genuinely safe as we did not have the ability to calm things down and keep possession for any meaningful period of time.
Both James and Gary described Antoine Semenyo’s goal yesterday. I will only question that Aarons received an obvious head injury courtesy of Wells and three of our players had separate chances to put the ball out of play but instead rather ridiculously carried on while waiting for a whistle that never came.
Amidst the Bristol firestorm, we had enough chances to have put the game to bed at 4-2, but Wednesday was one of those nights when we were never going to do that.
As is my wont of late, it’s time to ask Don Harold for the opinion of the Man in the Stands.
“Blimey, we make life difficult for ourselves. We must stop giving the ball away. Luckily compared to the PL we’re playing in a pub league and getting away with it, but I fear that we will, at some time, pay heavily for our carelessness.
“However, we won and deserved to win. My brother who has travelled from Panama for a couple of games saw his first three points since we beat QPR 4-0 in 2018-19. And we were all treated to a memorable Pukki goal – he doesn’t get many with his head!
“When we weren’t giving the ball away we looked pretty good and six wins on the spin is impressive in anyone’s book. Let’s hope we keep the run going a least until the ridiculous international break.”
It has since emerged that Angus Gunn was absent from the bench with a knee injury and that Hanley played most of the second half in discomfiture with a shoulder concern. Byram was cramping up at the end so all three must be doubtful for the visit of draw specialists West Brom tomorrow.
We’ll find out more from Dean Smith later this morning.
It’s toying with reality when we sit back and realise that’s six wins on the bounce but I’m not knocking it and that’s for sure.
To balance that, it would be fantastic to see both Liam Gibbs and Isaac Hayden available for selection on October 1 – otherwise, we still haven’t even remotely replaced Alex Tettey or Olly Skipp.
Having said that, oh to have been a neutral watching that match, and what a classic main event it would have made for TV! Don’t be afraid to rearrange the timing of the return match at Ashton Gate Mr Sky!
And if you caught an early morning view of the match from Brentwood, LA, Mr Attanasio, now you can truly understand what it feels like to be a Norwich City supporter.