A lovely second half volley by Emi Buendia was enough to see off a spirited Barnsley side at Carrow Road in the first game of 2021. The result saw Barnsley drop one place into 9th with the hosts staying top and extending their lead to four points. Barnsley battled hard to try and get something from the game but ultimately the extra quality of the home side shone through and they got a deserved win.
Barnsley were forced into some changes from the team that won in midweek as Captain Alex Mowatt was forced to miss the game after a positive Covid test. Connor Chaplin, Brad Collins, and George Miller were also absent from the squad due to Covid. This presented a chance for Herbie Kane to get a start in the midfield and Luke Thomas came into the attack.
Barnsley started the better of the two sides and were pressing the hosts really well. The away side should have taken an early lead but Thomas could not apply the finish when clean through. The ball broke to the pacey winger following a strike from Cauley Woodrow but his volley hit the bar which was a huge let-off for Norwich.
The Tykes came close again soon after but a great last-ditch clearance denied Woodrow a simple tap in. Herbie Kane clipped over a wonderful pass to Callum Brittain who controlled well and got to the byline to cross but it was smashed clear for a corner.
Norwich soon created a clear chance themselves and it was fantastic work from Brittain to deny them the opening goal. Pukki was played in behind and his shot from inside the area beat Walton in the Barnsley goal, however, Brittain came to the rescue with a perfectly timed goal-line clearance to keep the scores level.
Norwich then started to take control of the game after that Pukki chance and Walton was tested when Vrancic let fly from the edge of the box but the Barnsley keeper got down well to save.
Barnsley were pressing high up the pitch and winning the ball back high up the pitch but this was leaving gaps in behind that the Canaries were looking to exploit. The hosts did catch them on the break late on in the first half but Cantwell fired well over when picked out.
Soon after the first Cantwell chance, he looked to be in again on the counter but again fluffed his lines to leave the score at 0-0. He was found on the counter and raced through one on one after a slip from Brittain. The Norwich attacker had the chance to shoot left footed but he elected to cut back inside onto his stronger right side.
Doing this allowed Barnsley to get men back and Cantwell was soon crowded out and the ball was hoofed clear. Barnsley had the final chance of the opening half but Woodrow dragged his shot wide from the edge of the area. The reds top scorer did have Brittain free to his right but Woodrow was always going to shoot.
Barnsley started the better but Norwich ended the half as the stronger side and look a big threat on the counter. Only a vital goal-line clearance denied Pukki from scoring but Thomas also should have opened the scoring for the away side.
Half Time – Norwich City 0-0 Barnsley
Norwich started the second half just as the first had ended and were catching the visitors on the break exploiting the high defensive line. Walton this time came to the rescue with a great save to deny Pukki when he was found in space in the area on the counter.
Todd Cantwell raced through and squared it to the Finnish striker, but Walton rushed out and made himself big and diverted the ball wide with his right leg. Really strong save but a huge let-off for the away side and at this rate it was only a matter of time before they went behind.
The breakthrough should have come soon after the Pukki chance but again Cantwell let the chance go begging. Pukki fired the ball across goal and Cantwell looked destined to tap the ball home but he missed the ball completely when unmarked. The ball did fall to Sorensen but his shot was turned wide by Walton.
This was to be the last let-off for Barnsley as Norwich did take the lead just after the hour mark. Kenny McLean picked up the ball around the halfway line before firing an inch-perfect ball over the top to pick out the run of Emi Buendia and the talented attacker volleyed home first time for his seventh of the season.
Norwich continued to push on after the goal as they looked to put the game out of reach. Buendia again caused problems and he almost returned the favour to McLean following some great skill on the left but his cross was just too high as McLean tried to nod home at the back post.
Barnsley tried to push forward for an equaliser but this continued to leave space in behind for Norwich to break into. Again Cantwell was presented with a chance on the break but again he lacked the composure when it mattered. Pukki picked him out on the break but the young midfielder was unable to control the ball and the ball was hoofed clear.
There was another chance wasted by that man Cantwell again before the game was up. Again it was on the break this time down the right-hand side. He got into the box and shot but his effort was saved by Walton. If he had packed his shooting boots this afternoon he could have easily been walking away with the match ball.
Norwich were almost made to rue their missed chances when in the last minute of added time Callum Styles drilled the ball across goal but Helik was unable to repeat his late heroics of last week as he couldn’t steer the ball home at the back post.
Full-Time Norwich City 1-0 Barnsley
MOTM – Emi Buendia
Overall it was a deserved win for the home side and the margin of victory could have been much bigger on another day as they were able to find space in behind the high line on numerous occasions. Barnsley played well though for the most part and more than matched the side who sit at the top of the league. Had Thomas taken his early chance the game could have been so different and almost snatched a point at the death but it just wasn’t to be.
Valerien Ismael will be able to take a lot of positives from this game and should have some new additions to pick from next week as he teased new arrivals in his midweek press conference. A new striker would really be welcomed given the absence of Chaplin and Miller today as well as the inability to make the ball stick up top not just today but in recent weeks too.
Valerien Ismael says there will be transfer announcements next week. #barnsleyfc
— leon wobschall (@LeonWobYP) January 1, 2021