Positives for Canaries striker Sargent to focus on after wasting golden chances

Josh Sargent of Norwich rues missing an open goal during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, No

Josh Sargent comes to terms with missing an open goal during Norwich City's draw with Brighton - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It so nearly proved to be an excellent emergence as a Premier League force for Josh Sargent but instead, the Norwich City new boy was left to wrestle with the agony of a moment that all strikers dread. 

Handed a fourth successive top-flight start by Daniel Farke, the man from Missouri displayed plenty of nice touches and worked his socks off alongside Teemu Pukki to link up with the Canaries midfield during Saturday’s goalless draw with Brighton. 

So when the tiring USA international was replaced by Milot Rashica in the 76th minute, he received a supportive ovation from much of the Carrow Road faithful, knowing that the 21-year-old would be kicking himself for wasting two clear goal-scoring chances. 

A lovely pass into the right channel from Mathias Normann had seen Sargent muscle his way in front of Seagulls skipper Lewis Dunk, only for the experienced defender to nudge him off the ball just as an early chance was opening up. 

He kept hold of possession after a long ball from Ben Gibson in the 10th minute but saw Dimitris Giannoulis cough up possession cheaply on the left. Soon after there was a timid attempt at a 50-50 challenge on halfway when a more determined effort was needed with the ball there to be won. 

It was the kind of situation that Canaries legend Grant Holt used to revel in, taking personal pride in making sure he won the ball to set his team on the attack, and an example of Sargent not quite hitting the intensity required yet in the English top tier. 

He went close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute though after wonderful control of a looping pass from Gibson, turning and firing a right-footed effort from the left of the D which deflected just beyond the far post. 

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More encouraging signs followed, straining his neck muscles to nod a loose ball down to Pukki, leading to good work from Kenny McLean eventually winning a corner. At the second attempt, the forward managed to get his head onto Normann’s delivery to the near post but Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez claimed the looping ball comfortably enough. 

The American was really starting to pick up the pace of the game and battling hard, being found centrally after good work from Giannoulis in the 42nd minute but not being able to dig out the pass to Pukki in space to his left before being bundled over by Marc Cucurella, who was booked. 

Josh Sargent of Norwich is fouled by Marc Cucurella of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Premier Lea

Brighton's Marc Cucurella was booked for this foul on Canaries striker Josh Sargent - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Pukki found Sargent centrally again soon after, teeing up Pierre Lees-Melou for a shot that the Frenchman drove a couple of yards over the bar, as the hosts pushed for the opener after surviving early pressure. 

Then the nightmare moment arrived in the 45th minute, the moment that the youngster will be desperate to ensure doesn’t prove to be the enduring memory of his Canaries career. 

Sanchez charged out of goal and managed to clumsily take out Dunk as Sargent chased a Normann pass, giving him a simple finish into an unguarded net from the edge of the box – but panic set in. 

Rather than taking the touch towards goal that he had plenty of time for, with the Barclay Stand fans poised to roar in celebration, he snatched at the shot and rolled a weak effort that Shane Duffy could comfortably intercept and clear behind for a corner. 

Sargent put his hands to his head in disbelief, as so many did in the stands, while the Brighton fans gleefully chanted “that’s why you’re going down” to rub salt into the wounds. 

His opportunity for redemption arrived just a few minutes into the second half though, as Dunk smashed a clearance against Adam Lallana.  

The ball dropped kindly for Pukki and he threaded Sargent through on goal, with just Sanchez to beat, only for a poor first touch to waste the opening and allow Dan Burn to slide in with a saving tackle. 

Josh Sargent of Norwich is denied by a great tackle form Dan Burn of Brighton & Hove Albion during t

Dan Burn recovered to prevent Norwich forward Josh Sargent testing Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

From then on the striker’s confidence had clearly taken a knock, being crowded out on the left after good work from McLean and being robbed easily as he tried to hold up the ball, but receiving supportive applause from the fans after holding up a Tim Krul kick well and finding Max Aarons. 

Duffy cleared the ball against him to avoid a corner but before he was replaced in the 76th minute there was a lovely, delicate touch and good strength to keep possession as Ozan Kabak charged forward, only for a Giannoulis cross to be cleared. 

VERDICT: Supportive standing ovation was good to see, on a tough day psychologically for any striker, let alone a youngster adjusting to the best league in the world. Many encouraging factors for him to focus on as he strives for that pressure-relieving first Premier League goal but City cannot afford forwards to be so wasteful during the push to kick-start the season. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 

- You can listen to our review of the game in the latest episode of the Pink Un Podcast above and watch David Freezer's post-game verdict in the video below

NCFC EXTRA: Aarons backs Norwich City striker to recover after 'frustrating' Brighton draw