It’s a weekend trip to Carrow Road to take on 9th placed Norwich City and the bookies have us as 3/1 underdogs. I make one change from our loss to Sheffield Wednesday at Ryan Mason replaces the injured Michel. With Bradley Johnson remaining in the starting line-up, he makes his 75th career league appearance for us against his former club. As players always score against their previous clubs, I’m looking forward to our goal drought coming to an end (probably a spectacular end as well!). Michele Marconi is soon in the action, picking up a yellow card in the 9th minute for a foul on Morrison. The first chance of the game comes in the 23rd minute when Almond fires wide from 18 yards. Catalin Rentea joins Marconi in the book in the 27th minute after fouling Andersen, whilst our first chance comes a minute later as Mason threads a ball through for Marconi; he slides the ball under Walker, but also the wrong side of the post unfortunately. Ryan Mason becomes the third player into the book in the 42nd minute when he fouls Andersen. There’s some late drama in the 44th minute when Crofts crosses from the right and Almond connects from 8 yards out with a diving header. Jonathan Bond is beaten, but Almond’s effort hits the post and we clear. The ball comes straight back and Sadler crosses from the left. The cross hits Bradley Johnson and goes past Bond and in for an own goal. I was expecting to see Johnson on the scoresheet against his former club, but wasn’t expecting it to be against us.
We start the second half determined to level the score and in the 47th minute, Mason plays Marconi in. Marconi takes too long on the ball and Norwich are able to clear for a corner. A minute later, Crofts becomes the first Norwich player in the book after fouling Dacian Varga. Mason is setting us up again in the 49th minute, playing in Varga, who shoots from 16 yards and finds the net. The side-netting unfortunately. Mason is evidently not pleased with his work not being finished and takes matters into his own hands in the 61st minute, but his shot from 18 yards is straight at Walker. Federico Cenci comes on for Michele Marconi as a 62nd minute substitute. Vangjeli joins Crofts in the referee’s book in the 68th minute, with Varga being the player fouled again. Norwich have their first chance of note for the second half in the 73rd minute when Halford shoots from 10 yards. Thankfully, Bond is alert and gets down quickly, turning the ball behind for a corner. The 76th minute sees an unlikely combination as Johnson plays in Bertin Matip, who looks to lob Walker. The lob has plenty of height on it, allowing Walker to get back and tip it onto the post. Varga is following up, but adjudged to have fouled Walker. It’s Varga’s last action in the game as I replace him with Manuel Gavilan. 12 minutes after his introduction, Gavilan plays in Cenci, but the shot from 18 yards is straight at Walker from 18 yards. Sokolowski gets a booking in the 90th minute for fouling Johnson and George King replaces Jagos Vukovic, who had picked up a knock as Norwich see the game out in front of 21,939 fans. Pekalski is named Man of the Match with a rating of 7.3 and is credited with an assist as we stay 5th.
Despite us being the leading scorers in the division, it’s the third consecutive league game we’ve lost 1-0 (and the fourth game in a row where we haven’t scored). We’ve arguably been the better side in all three games and have conceded from a set-piece and scored 2 own goals, so we certainly haven’t been torn apart – we just haven’t been able to finish.
The physio reports on Jagos Vukovic – he’s picked up a thigh strain and will be out for 2 to 3 weeks. Coventry City offer to loan Konstantin Manov for a month and it’s accepted by both myself and the player. The month ends, with awards going to Luis Bolanos (Player of the Month, WBA), Souleymane Coulibaly (Young Player of the Month, WBA) and Gordon Strachan (Manager of the Month, Bristol City). Daniel Paxton, who I’ve loaned to Crewe Alexandra, does pick up Young Player of the Month in League 2. I scour players who have been released and invite some for trials: Northern Irish goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey for a week, Irish AMR/ST Anthony Stokes for a week, Czech D/WB (RL) Martin Koci for 2 weeks, Finnish striker Juko Virkhi for 2 weeks, Congolese D/MC Ansima Sembolo for 2 weeks, Belarusian ST Oleg Kriushenko for a week, Peruvian DC Nestor Medina, Peruvian DC Gustavo Ballon for a week, Belarusian DC Dmitriy Savchyuk for a week, Peruvian GK Marco Rey for a week, Belarusian GK Nikolay Krilchik for a week, Colombian DC/DM/MC Juan Arboleda for a week, Colombian DC Alberto Guerrero for a week and Paraguayan ST Victor Acosta for a week. I sign Martin Koci, who is a player I want to see how he develops, but could be a player I look to move on reasonably quickly:
Swansea City appoint Steve Bruce as their new manager