Norwich City vs Sheffield Wednesday: Match Report

An end to end game between a team near the top of the table and one languishing near the bottom was certainly a spectacle for the 2000 Norwich fans who returned to Carrow Road this afternoon. This one ended 2-1 to Norwich, as they moved to the top of the league table, after they worked to turn the game around following Josh Windass’s goal that gave Wednesday the lead in the 60th minute.

Going into this game, Wednesday were still looking for their first win under Tony Pulis. Following a good point against Reading midweek, Pulis will have been looking for more of the same from his team going into today’s game.

Making 3 changes today, Pulis was able to bring back Josh Windass after he finished his three match suspension following his red card against Preston.

One thing that stuck out was the decision to play five Centre Backs, making many Wednesday fans question the formation and tactics from Pulis. However as the game got underway it became clear what Pulis had planned. Dominic Iorfa, fresh from an injury layoff was playing in a holding midfield role.

On the Tony Pulis Hat Watch, he stuck with the Black Sheffield Wednesday cap that he has worn over the past few games.

Pukki retuned for norwich

For Norwich, who have been struggling with injuries, Teemu Pukki returned to lead the line with the young Josh Martin returning to the bench. In midfield, Vrancic comes in for Alex Tettey. Looking to return to winning ways, Daniel Farke welcomed the return of fans back to Carrow Road in his pre match press conference.

From the off, there was good positive play from Wednesday, as a Barry Bannan corner was met by the German defender Börner. It looked to be going in before Börner’s fellow countryman Stiepermann cleared the ball off the line. The Wednesday man will rue his countryman’s defensive work but he will certainly thank him, as without the Norwich man, Börner may not have signed for The Owls.

Not long after, a Norwich chance fell to Sorenson on the left hand side. His shot was spilled by Joe Wildsmith but no one could turn it in before it was cleared for a corner, which ultimately came to nothing. As Wednesday went up the other end, they won a corner of their own. Bannan’s corner was flicked on at the front post and yet again was cleared off the line by a desperate Norwich defender. The resulting corner ended with Kadeem Harris powering a shot the Norwich goal before McGovern put it round his near post.

This was a very positive start from Wednesday and they were able to put together sustained periods of possession for the first time in quite a few games.

The first 15 minutes was very scrappy, as neither team were able to take control of the game. As Norwich looked to take control of the game, Pukki had a try from outside of the box on his left but Wildsmith was able to easily deal with it.

Not soon after, a 50/50 challenge between Moses Odubajo and Emi Buendia resulted in a yellow card for Odubajo. Buendia certainly made the most of that tackle and appeared to be looking to get the Wednesday man sent off. This was a harsh booking for the Wednesday man and will certainly be one the referee looks back on after the game.

Norwich were playing some good stuff but the end product and the ball into the box was just not good enough at the start. 

Norwich were starting to play some good stuff but the end product and the ball into the box was just not good enough at the start. With Wednesday’s high defensive line and their compact banks of five and four players behind the ball, Norwich’s players were unable to play between the midfield and defence. With Iorfa man-marking Buendia from the start, the Norwich playmaker was unable to properly influence the game and play in the space behind the midfield. Pulis’ tactics were paying off early on.

As Wednesday grew into the game, the chances came in their numbers. A long throw from Paterson caused trouble in the box before the ball fell to Barry Bannan on the edge of the box. With the ball dropping to the dynamic midfielder, his shot went straight to McGovern in the Norwich goal.

Wednesday’s defensive shape and structure has certainly improved since Pulis arrived at the club. I am unsure what he has done with Julian Börner since he arrived but he looks like a new player, who hadn’t been playing like a shadow of his former self towards the end of Garry Monk’s time in charge. He made a wonderful headed clearance facing his own goal from a Placheta cross. The resulting corner was headed narrowly wide by the Norwich captain Grant Hanley.

This was a very positive first half from Wednesday, who played very positively going forward. Watching Iorfa win the ball back in midfield and drive forward with the ball was very exiting to watch.

From a Norwich perspective, they were having lots of joy on the left wing, as many crosses came in from the 22 year old winger Placheta.

As Wednesday started to play some good football and retain possession for more than a few passes, Van Aken saw an opportunity and took a shot from 25 yards out but it went just wide. Following this sliced shot from the centre half, Norwich went straight up the other end and won a free kick. This was certainly a debatable decision from the referee given the very minimal contact from the Wednesday player. Buendia and Vrancic were over this free kick about 20 years out but the strike from Buendia went straight into the wall.

Not long after, Stiepermann was felled by Börner on the 40 min mark and this time Norwich had the chance to strike from the same distance out but on the other side of the box. Vrancic’s free kick went just over the bar but Wildsmith will say that he had it covered. 

Wednesday were performing very well going into the break in that first half. Pulis will be very happy with the performance of his team. For Norwich, Farke will be looking to pass on a few key messages during the break and will look for his team to cut out the silly mistakes that were made in the first half. 

Half time: Norwich City 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

In the 52nd minute, Grant Hanley headed a Buendia corner just wide. He just wasn’t able to guide the header on target. Just after Iorfa came off for Joey Pelupessy. This felt like a strange decision from Pulis given the defensive impact that Iorfa was having on the game. This didn’t look like a decision caused by injury as Iorfa joined his team mates on the bench rather than going down the tunnel.

In 58th minute, Odubajo’s left footed strike from outside the penalty area went just over the bar. Not long after, Wednesday’s positive play was finally rewarded in the 60th minute, as Josh Windass converted a wonderful cross from Adam Reach from the left with a bullet header. Reach put that cross on a postage stamp and had made a quality assist on his 200th appearance for the club.

Not long after getting the opener, Windass was substituted for Liam Palmer. Harris moved up front and Odubajo moved up the pitch to right wing. Pulis clearly saw Harris as a good option up front in the second half due to his pace.

Wednesday now had a lead to hold on to. All the players were behind the ball as they then looked to counter attack. A swift counter attack from Palmer after he won the ball back led to a cross going towards Kadeem Harris in the box as he got on the wrong side of the defence. He would have been clear through on goal if it wasn’t for a wonderful sliding tackle from Vrancic to get the ball back to McGovern in goal.

Wednesday’s confidence was clearly growing, as Norwich continued to press. Believing in their defensive shape was paying off for Wednesday. Norwich on the other hand seemed to be getting desperate as they kept losing the ball and allowing Wednesday to pick up the ball and counter. One such attack led to a Pelupessy shot but it was easily collected by the Norwich keeper.

It was clear that Norwich were making the wrong decisions when going forward. Many passes went into areas where they didn’t need to be played. Norwich were outplayed and tactically beaten throughout most of this game. They were unsure about how to break down the Wednesday defensive line and when they did try to, they played the wrong ball.

In the 78th minute, Oliver Skipp dragged down Moses Odubajo as he broke forward on the counter. Receiving a yellow card, it was one that was necessary. The resulting free kick came to nothing.

Just before that free kick, young striker Josh Martin came on for Marco Stiepermann to try and get something from this game for Norwich. This led to a change of system from Farke’s men, with various players pushing further up the pitch.

Just four minutes after that subsitution, Martin scored his first professional goal to equalise for Norwich. A beautiful ball through from Vrancic took three Sheffield Wednesday players out of the game and allowed the young striker to poke the ball past Wildsmith in goal.

For Pulis, he will certainly be disappointed that his team weren’t able to hang on to this lead, especially when they were looking so comfortable. It just shows that all you need is one quality pass to change a game.

Soon after, Aaron and Vrancic completed a one-two inside the Wednesday box. As Vrancic’s back heel found Max Aarons he remained composed and slotted the ball past Wildsmith to make the game 2-1 to Norwich.

For 80 minutes Wednesday’s game play worked perfectly but the change of formation and the move from Farke to bring on Josh Martin amongst other attacking players changed things completely.

With four minutes of normal time left, Farke brought on Alex Tettey to partner Oliver Skipp in midfield and see the game out. Pulis also brought on Izzy Brown and Elias Kachunga to try and get something from this game.

In the space of ten minutes, Norwich went from 6th in the league to top of the table. It shows that the game shouldn’t be given up until the final whistle has been blown.

Going into the five minutes of added time, Wednesday committed men into the box and a good cross from the right led to a Paterson header that went just wide. The murmurs from the stands as the header came in showed how close that was. Most people in the ground thought that one had gone in at the death.

Despite Wednesday’s efforts, the referee blew the whistle and Norwich City took all three points after turning this one around from a losing position.

Full time Norwich City 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday

For Wednesday this one will be a bitter pill to swallow after playing so well for 80 minutes. Pulis’ game plan and tactics worked perfectly right up until Farke made attacking changes. Today’s loss sees Wednesday return to the bottom of the table as Derby won against Millwall. Wednesday will be looking to finally record a victory under Pulis next time out as they play Huddersfield away from home.

From Norwich’s perspective, their quality came through in the end. A good victory sees them go to the top of the table despite all their injury woes. Next time out, Norwich face another team at the bottom of the table in Nottingham Forest, who will be desperate to get some points and move up the table away from the relegation zone.

MOTM: Mario Vrancic – played two quality balls for both goals and will be hugely happy with the two assists.

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