Freezer's Five: Key observations from City's much-needed home win over Reading
PUBLISHED: 19:45 17 March 2018 | UPDATED: 19:58 17 March 2018
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Norwich City correspondent David Freezer takes a look at some of the key talking points following Norwich City's 3-2 home victory over Reading.
Srbeny takes a step forward
He had the cherry in his hand, ready to place it on top of the cake, but just couldn’t finish the job.
Dennis Srbeny’s miss in then 76th minute so nearly gave the big German a fitting finish to a much improved performance and would have prevented such a nervy end to the game.
Determined play from Josh Murphy to keep alive the striker’s knock down kept the chance alive and the 23-year-old January signing from Paderborn turned with just Reading keeper Anssi Jaakkola to beat from 10 yards, but slid his low shot beyond the far post.
It was a shame as Srbeny had put in the best performance yet of his seven matches as a City player, with hard work, some nice touches and more of a physical presence suggesting there is more to come.
He earned big cheers in the 42nd minute after a nice turn on the ball and a pass that so nearly had Murphy clean through on goal, before dropping to cover at left-back and tackle Sone Aluko to earn another cheer.
Progress but chances like his big moment in the second half must be taken if Srbeny is going to be a success in Norfolk.
Grant Hanley has been on the hunt for his first City goal for a while now, with a series of near misses, but finally got the header he deserved against the Royals.
Having flicked on James Maddison’s corner from the right to allow Mario Vrancic to open the scoring, the big Scot nodded home to make it 2-0.
It came from the left side, rising high above Tiago Ilori to head home from close range and put the Canaries in control.
It’s been a while since the Canaries have had a dominant aerial threat at set-pieces but the Scotland international centre-back was too much for Reading to handle in the first half.
Fouled Modou Barrow to give away the free-kick from which Liam Kelly eventually made it 2-1 but otherwise another performance which keeps the big man’s popularity on the rise.
Murphy reaches his century
A switch seems to have flicked in Josh Murphy’s head this week, the academy product looks like he means business.
All three goals came from the 23-year-old causing problems on the left, being set clear by Maddison and beating Ilori for pace before his low cross was turned behind for a corner. The first was wasted but the second saw Vrancic head in at the back post.
Goal number two saw Vrancic release the man making his 100th appearance in Norwich colours, with a fine touch allowing him a shot which was superbly blocked by Chris Gunter, only for Hanley to head in Maddison’s subsequent corner.
And the penalty came after Murphy again broke into space on the left and crossed, forcing Jaakkola to bring down Maddison, who rolled home the spot-kick.
Since the early stages of the second half at Barnsley on Tuesday, when Murphy was moved to his recognised wide role once Onel Hernandez was brought on, the wide man has been excellent – scoring a fine equaliser at Oakwell.
He has persevered as a striker when asked by head coach Danie Farke but is showing he is best suited to the left wing. Snatched at some chances in the second half as he chased the goal he deserved but there was plenty for Murphy and his boss to be pleased with.
Mario reaches next level
Before the game Mario Vrancic was the player taking on media duties at Colney on Friday.
The 28-year-old midfielder had found himself on the fringes recently but injuries to Moritz Leitner and Tom Trybull, as well as illness for Harrison Reed, saw him return during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Barnsley.
With Alex Tettey subsequently also being injured the Bosnia and Herzegovina international and Reed were pretty much Farke’s only central midfield options – and Vrancic responded to his coach’s needs.
The former Darmstadt man not only got stuck in but played some lovely balls forward, setting Murphy away on the left in the lead up to the second goal with a lofted pass, having similarly freed the winger five minutes earlier.
After a tepid start to Championship life the former Bundesliga regular proved that he can handle the intensity of the English second tier, on a freezing cold day against a team desperate for points.
“It could be a chance for me to make an impact,” Vrancic had said pre-match. Now he has the chance to fulfil the pre-season hopes of many City fans.
Edwards on the bench
Finally a sighting of the Tottenham youngster in a matchday squad, for the first time since joining on loan in January.
Unfortunately this was not the frenetic sort of second half to chuck the youngster into, as Farke wound down the clock by bringing on Marley Watkins, Wes Hoolahan and Christoph Zimmermann during the closing stages.
With so little evidence that the 19-year-old was actually at the club, the emergence of the man dubbed a ‘mini-Messi’ by Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino to warm up on the sidelines at least put to bed some conspiracy theories.
Sporting the number 21 previously worn by Alex Pritchard – another Tottenham youth product – it offered hope to the youngster that he may yet get the chance to impress this season.
He has two games with the England U20s during the international break to push his claims further, which no doubt Canaries fans will be keeping a keen eye on.
Edwards is a player with a big reputation considering he has made just one League Cup appearance for Spurs. You do not earn 46 caps at youth international level for England unless you have talent, so chances must surely follow with little left to play for in the final eight games of this transitional season.