Match Report: Norwich City 2-1 Sunderland - Positives, But Still No Points

Matthew Lewis

Join us as we recap the action from today's game against Norwich City at Carrow Road. There's plenty to go over, so let's get right to it...

The opening five minutes were relatively quiet. Norwich certainly enjoying more of the possession but not a great deal of threat. Matt Kilgallon found himself in the book early doors for a near identical challenge to John O'Shea on Shane Long against West Bromwich Albion last weekend.

Adam Johnson, who started on the right of midfield, wasted a half decent opportunity by ballooning one well wide with better options placed in the middle.

As said though, Norwich were dominating the possession, and it was the home side who inevitably drew first blood.

Danny Rose was penalised for a foul on Steven Whittaker around 35-40 yards from goal. Robert Snodgrass wrapped his left foot around it and following a few bobbles around in a crowded penalty area, Sebastian Bassong beat Simon Mignolet to the ball at the back post to bumble in from a yard out.

Eight minutes on the clock and any game plan was seemingly out the window.

Nothing seemed to go our way in the first half. Nothing against the referee at all, he didn't have any decisions to make really. It was our inability to do anything right as a competition ensued to see who could do the 'most Sunderland season defining moment'. I give you the contenders;

James McClean's 13th minute overhead kick from outside the are which trickled well wide whilst Steven Fletcher got himself into a good position.

Stephane Sessegnon's 17th minute half-volley from a full 30+ yards out which went high and wide. So wide in fact it went out for a throw in, and not even close to the corner flag for any sort of reduced shame.

Finally, in the 40th minute, Craig Gardner (who'd later redeem himself in the first half) playing the ball straight out of play over the head of a completely unmarked Phil Bardsley.

In between those though some interesting things happened. A corner kick straight from the training ground which saw Rose testing Mark Bunn in the Norwich City goal, but also two goals.

The first of which was a sickener as Anthony Pilkington double the hosts lead. A nice ball through from Bradley Johnson saw Matt Kilgallon play everyone on side, Pilkington hold off Cuellar and neatly finish past Mignolet. Game over? Just about it felt before a screamer from Gardner got us back into things.

Some excellent work by Adam Johnson on the left hand side set up Gardner to lash into the corner off the post left-footed from a full 20 yards. Rather unexpectedly and completely against the run of play, suddenly we had a little snifter of a chance.

Martin O'Neill made a leap of faith at half time with Steven Fletcher picking up an ankle injury, Connor Wickham was brought on at the break ahead of usual favourite Fraizer Campbell. Louis Saha not involved in the match squad.

Against all expectations we actually came out in the second half and improved. Like, significantly improved. The tempo was upped and plenty of chances were created, all looking like something would eventually come with Norwich firmly on the back foot.

Carlos Cuellar's shot on the turn was blocked at close range, Connor Wickham had the ball whipped off his toes by Whittaker after good work from Sessegnon before he himself wasted a glorious opportunity having been slipped in behind the defence by Danny Rose. It was however Matt Kilgallon who wasted the best opportunity as the hour mark came and went.

Craig Gardner took one of those freekicks. One of those where he had absolutely no business shooting from so far out but he did anyway. It actually paid off as with Bunn scrambling the ball rebouned off the post and into the path of "Skillgallon" who this week showcased how to miss an open goal. Should have been 2-2. You'd have backed a baby to score it.

With 15 minutes of normal time remaining the game was still anyone's for the taking, and we certainly had our chances.

Danny Rose was growing into the game and nearly set up Connor Wickham with a tap in, while he also played a part in his England Under-21 colleague's offside goal.

The ball from a corner was easily nodded away and out to Rose who struck beautifully on the volley. Mark Bunn spilled the ball right into the path of Wickham who tapped home with the flag raised. It could have been against any number of Sunderland players lurking to finish.

Rose himself shot wide with better options placed late on as we began to become a little bit desperate for an equaliser. During this period of desperation Fraizer Campbell replaces James McClean, who had flitted in and out all afternoon.

Norwich had their own chances too mind you. Wes Hoolahan wriggled away from two markers to set up Grant Holt but the big man's touch eluded him at the crucial moment.

We kept pressing though right to the final whistle. Danny Rose was denied a penalty when he went down in the area, although there wasn't much of an appeal from he nor his teammates. Sessegnon didn't get the look of the bounce as he tried to keep some danger alive and with the last meaningful kick of the game Craig Gardner wasted a freekick in a good position.

Another one of those days. Once again we'll talk about the positives we can take from it - chances created, good attitude, encouraging passages of play - but right now give me a God awful performance and three points every single time over another day like today.

Don't forget to check back into our match stream later HERE for player ratings and full reaction.

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