REPORT: NORWICH CITY 1-2 TOWNTown won in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the third attempt to cap a superb week, with a third win in seven days coming at Norwich City.
A superb first half performance at Carrow Road meant Town led at the interval, with two instances of the lethal combination of a Tommy Smith assist and Elias Kachunga goal bookending Jonny Howson’s header.
Town had more chances to extend their lead, but had to defend well at the death to deny the Canaries.
The win followed on from the victories over Bristol City and Burton Albion and was just rewards for a consistently good level of performance.
The game started at a frantic pace, with a goal apiece inside the opening six minutes. Even before that, Norwich striker Nelson Oliveira should have done better with a second minute chance.
Chris Löwe tried to step inside winger Jacob Murphy and was dispossessed, with the young Norwich winger advancing down the right before pulling the ball back perfectly to the Portuguese international. He took one touch to steady himself, but still miscued his shot wide when well positioned. It was an early let-off for the Terriers.
It didn’t take them long to take advantage. Kasey Palmer received a pass and easily turned to sprint past Graham Dorrans before passing the ball out wide for Smith. He hammered the ball across the face of goal where Kachunga had pulled infield in now trademark fashion to plant the ball beyond a helpless Ruddy from six yards out.
Sadly, for those of a Town persuasion, the hosts restored parity in the score-line barely 60 seconds later. A ball down the Norwich left channel by full back Martin Olsson found Robbie Brady and the Irishman hooked a great cross in from the dead ball line to find the head of captain Jonny Howson, who expertly steered his effort past the diving Danny Ward’s left side when totally unmarked in the middle of the box.
As the game settled down, it was the Terriers who enjoyed the lion’s share of first half possession; looking creative in attack and structured in defence. Like every Town player, Kachunga was doing his defensive work and did well to block a useful-looking Olsson volley wide of target, following the left back’s run almost 30 yards as he tried to provide an outlet for Howson.
From the resulting Dorrans corner, centre half Sebastien Bassong headed comfortably over under pressure from two defenders.
Jon Gorenc Stanković was making his third start in Town colours and looked comfortable on the ball. His 20th minute pass to Kachunga started a good attack, with Kasey Palmer driving at the defence before sliding a pass left to Rajiv van La Parra. He tried to curl a shot inside the far post that went high over the bar when Wells and Palmer were well positioned in the middle.
Kachunga’s interception just three minutes later launched another quick counter, with goalkeeper John Ruddy collecting a swerving Wells shot from 25 yards.
At the other end, Town conceded a few too many free kicks in the wide areas. However, the new high line employed recently when defending set pieces was paying dividends, with Ward coming to collect on a few occasions.
Norwich’s array of attacking talent kept Town’s defence honest throughout, with Stanković needed to deflect Oliveira’s powerful long range effort over the crossbar as the half hour approached.
Aaron Mooy was enjoying an excellent game, doing a good job of reinforcing the left side when defending whilst showing his usual passing range in attack. One such 32nd minute pass looked to have released Wells in on goal, but Bassong did excellently to get back alongside the Bermudian to shepherd the ball back to his goalkeeper.
Another player doing sterling defensive work was Palmer. His pressure on halfway forced Dorrans into an horrendous long range back-pass that landed at Wells’ feet on the edge of the box. His first touch side-stepped Ruddy perfectly, but credit to Norwich’s defenders who scrambled back to block the shot and clear to safety.
Palmer tried his luck with an overhead kick from the resulting corner that was excellently struck – straight at Ruddy.
The second goal came in the 40th minute to send Town in ahead at the interval, with the right side proving fruitful again. This time Stanković’s excellent infield pass under pressure found Kachunga in acres of space and he turned to drive at the defenders. Playing a smart one-two with Smith to move Olsson out of the way, he took aim on the edge of the Norwich box and toe-ended a low shot that hit Bassong’s legs on its way past Ruddy, who can’t have seen the ball until late.
Norwich improved as the second half wore on, increasing the territorial pressure, and having a few good chances. However, the Terriers still offered a real threat and defended well enough to audibly frustrate the home supporters.
Kachunga fired wide in the 50th minute when a Smith pull-back found him inside the penalty area, but Norwich responded with a big chance eight minutes later. Brady’s huge hook forward was difficult to judge and a lapse from Stanković allowed Oliveira to step in and attempt a lob over Ward, with the ball drifting just wide.
Murphy soon fired wide for the hosts before Town responded, with Mooy setting Wells away into space. Sadly, Nahki’s left footed shot was tame and wide of the near post.
Van La Parra’s pass that set Wells clear was just too late as the attacker drifted offside soon after, but in the final 10 minutes the Terriers defended. Murphy forced Ward into a good save with a low 25-yard curler that was heading inside the far post before Stanković did excellently to deny sub Cameron Jerome a clear effort at goal as he looked to latch onto Naismith’s flicked header.
Jerome’s header from a deep corner was claimed by Ward as the minutes ticked away, but there was still one big chance for Norwich as Bassong headed another Brady corner mere inches wide.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Tommy Smith (c); Jonathan Hogg (Philip Billing, 81’), Aaron Mooy; Rajiv van La Parra (Michael Hefele, 90’), Kasey Palmer, Elias Kachunga; Nahki Wells (Harry Bunn, 77’)
Joel Coleman, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Martin Cranie, Jack Payne
Nahki Wells (72’); Aaron Mooy (87’)