Highs and lows: Jekyll and Hyde does not come close for the Canaries
PUBLISHED: 18:00 10 April 2017
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After Norwich City's unpredictable season hit new levels in the stylish thrashing of Reading, DAVID FREEZER looks at five highs and PADDY DAVITT at five lows in a campaign of Jekyll & Hyde proportions
HIGHS – 1. Blackburn 1 City 4 – Aug 6, 2016
Pre-season worries about a relegation hangover looked ill-founded as a vibrant Canaries team brushed aside Rovers on the opening day of the season. Jacob Murphy opened the scoring, with Wes Hoolahan and Cameron Jerome making it 3-0 by the break. Steve Naismith extended the lead before Anthony Stokes scored a consolation for Owen Coyle’s side.
2. City 5 Brentford 0 – Dec 3, 2016
Five league defeats on the bounce had alarm bells ringing as Alex Neil’s team slipped to eighth place. Alex Pritchard started just his fifth game of the season and burst into life against his former loan club. Goals from Jacob Murphy and Graham Dorrans in the first half were added to by Robbie Brady and Nelson Oliveira after the break, before Pritchard got the goal he deserved late on.
3. City 3 Derby 0 – Jan 2, 2017
A poor festive period looked to have been swept away when Nelson Oliveira’s hat-trick brought an end to the Rams’ excellent 10-game unbeaten run. Former City midfielder Jacob Butterfield was sent off for a heavy tackle of Wes Hoolahan with the score still 1-0 in the 66th minute, before Oliveira finished the job to take his personal tally to seven goals in seven games.
4. City 5 Nottm Forest 1 – Feb 11, 2017
Alex Neil’s team looked to have turned the corner as they went a fifth game unbeaten in extravagant style – in a game which will be remembered for Jonny Howson’s wonderful volley. Goals from Josh Murphy and another long-range strike, from Wes Hoolahan, put the hosts 3-0 up inside 18 minutes. An Alex Pritchard brace finished the rout after the break, moving City within four points of the play-off places.
5. City 7 Reading 1 – April 8, 2017
Likely to be remembered as the high point of a frustrating season, with six goals scored by City in the first half of a match at Carrow Road for the very first time. Braces from Wes Hoolahan and Alex Pritchard, a Nelson Oliveira penalty and a Russell Martin strike in the first half, were added to by substitute Cameron Jerome late on. The Canaries’ biggest league win since September 1952, when Shrewsbury Town were thrashed 8-1 in Division Three South
LOWS – 1. Birmingham 3 City 0 –Aug 27, 2016
A sign of things to come. Norwich were bullied and battered by Birmingham’s direct approach. David Davis was left unmarked inside the City penalty area before Clayton Donaldson profited from defensive charity that would come to define the Canaries’ vulnerability on the road. Alex Neil labelled it one of his worst days in the job at Carrow Road. There would be more to come.
2. Newcastle 4 City 3 – Sept 28, 2016
Norwich were poised to strike a major blow against one of their main promotion rivals. Until Alex Neil’s St James’ Park curse struck again. Yoan Gouffran equalised in the 95th minute but City were unable to hold out for a point when Dwight Gayle sealed his hat-trick. The explosion of noise on Tyneside must have been heard back in Norfolk. It was a pivotal moment in the season.
3. Brighton 5 City 0 – Oct 29, 2016
Russell Martin led the recriminations minutes after the final whistle with a brutal assessment of the deficiencies within the City squad. Questions were asked about the appetite for battle and the character after the Seagulls pummelled Norwich. The tone was set in the sixth minute when Michael McGovern’s failure to deal with a back pass allowed Glenn Murray to grab the first of his three goals.
4. Sheffield Wednesday 5, City 1 – Mar 4, 2017
Jordan Rhodes embarrassed Norwich’s central defensive duo. More set piece charity, fresh evidence City were so vulnerable after scoring at the opposite end. The day any faint play-off hopes were extinguished.
5. Huddersfield 3 City 0 – Apr 5, 2017
Fresh from calamitous defending in a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa, Ryan Bennett and Michael McGovern were exposed again. Parity to charity took all of seven devastating second half minutes. Alan Irvine emerged from the wreck of the away dressing room to insist he could not protect his players after another dreadful away shift.
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