NORWICH CITY 1 STOKE CITY 0
Looks to me like we are suffering a combination of these factors,PLUS tactics and overall match strategy.Let's turn the whole thing on its head.No Stokie watching would be in any doubt that in the last quarter of this match,and the one against Sunderland we have not only looked dangerous,but have created enough chances to win the games twice over.For threequarters of each game our play has seemed predictable,even laboured,fairly easily handled and stifled by the opposition.
Our attacking fulcrum is Crouchie.Take him out,by fair means or foul and we have less penetration as a team, given the tactical set up.Norwich successfully followed Sunderland's lead,roughing Crouch out of it,our man again getting little protection from the referee,or even being ruled against when he'd clearly been impeded.The odd chance or two were not taken,one by Jon Walters who is becoming the 'nearly' man,getting himself into wonderful scoring positions,but failing to put the ball in the net.Toothless....well not entirely.
Andre Marriner....what can you say?Have we ever won with him officiating?Maybe I'm wrong on this one,but I can't recall a win! He booked Adam for diving,but he was clearly elbowed on his way by a Norwich player.Crucially he backed his assistant's view that Wilkinson had fouled Snodgrass as he approached our area just before halftime.He was closer to the play than the lino with a clear view.The contact,if any, was minimal,certainly less than the earlier incident with Adam.Wilkinson seemed to be trying to avoid contact as Snodgrass ran across him.Yet rather than book the Norwich man for simulation,he awarded a freekick,and booked Wilko into the bargain.As they say its all about opinions,and entirely subjective at times!
This decision proved to be the turning point of the match.Snodgrass's freekick was headed on its way by a poorly marked Johnson beyond Begovic into the top corner of the Stoke net.The winner as it turned out.
But what about the last 20 minutes or so?Kightly had been replaced by Etherington,Walters by Jones.Things changed,the final stages of the game were all Stoke.Chances fell to Kenwyne Jones.First he he met a freekick from Adam.His header was saved by Ruddy,down on his goal line.Then an Adam freekick reached him 6 yards out He got his shot away,but sadly it passed narrowly outside the post.Eighteen months ago he would have bagged one of those chances,but take nothing away from him,Stoke looked more dangerous with him on the pitch with Crouch at this time.
On 90 minutes Bassong had hold of Etherington on the edge of the Norwich 6 yard box.The Norwich player then fell to the floor,Mr.Marriner obliged with a booking for Etherington!