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Canary On The Wire

The Wire Report: Cardiff City 2-4 Norwich City

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Wow. Just wow. Every now and then a match comes along and reminds us just why we love this game so much. This match was the absolute epitome of a ''game of two halves'', as Neil Adams'' Green Army turned in the worst 45, and the best 45, of this season so far.

It didn''t take long for the Welshmen to take the lead. Norwich''s lackadaisical attitude to the team press and Wes Hoolahan''s penchant for the occasional fatal error conspired to allow young midfielder Joe Ralls to put the ball beyond John Ruddy within five minutes. Last season I probably would have given up there, condemning us as unlikely to score, let alone win.

The fundamental issue with our slow start was a complete failure to get tight enough to Cardiff as they knocked the ball about at the back, meaning it was easy for them to directly thread the ball through or clip it up to the dominant Kenwyne Jones to hold up or flick on - the striker an early benefactor of the otherwise impressive Jos Hooiveld''s failure to acclimatise to the cut and thrust of Championship football after an unfortunate 2014 to say the least.

Tettey, Johnson and Hoolahan failed to press effectively in the first 45, leaving Cardiff to sit high and Gunnarsson/Whittingham too many passing options. Jones had free reign against Hooiveld to put the ball where he wanted, and aggressive runs forward from full-back by Brayford/Fabio made it difficult for Norwich to get out of their deep sit, leaving Grabban to move into the channels in hope of receiving the ball out wide as and when the ball was won.

Case in point arrived when that man Jones, so much the focal point of Cardiff''s early dominance, threaded in Anthony Pilkington out wide, whose cute cutback gave Aron Gunnarsson the opportunity to slide a neat finish in off the post. The former Canary Pilkington was at this stage a real thorn in the City side, and it looked for all the world at half time as though he would be on the winning side, so comfortable were the Redbirds at this stage. As described above it had been thankless for Grabban who simply was not in the game, and Tettey and Johnson were not getting close enough to Whittingham and Gunnarsson. Neither was Hoolahan dropping in successfully to recycle possession as he has done so well in the past.

Before the second half began, I took to Twitter to clamour for the introduction of Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe in place of Hoolahan and in lieu of the unavailable Howson so as to provide an outlet in midfield who could pick up the ball and drive on, as Hoolahan had been too static when in possession at that stage and easily closed down. I also suggested bringing on Jerome for Grabban, as our passing game was every bit as sloppy and wayward as it was at times against Bournemouth and I thought a more direct route would be favourable. Another, simple option would have been to move Lafferty central and bring on Garrido for Grabban, allowing for Olsson to play left wing and Redmond right. What Adams did was even better.

Though withdrawing Lafferty, (who at this point had put in a real gutsy shift and was one of few positives from a poor first half) looked stupid at first, bringing on Jerome on that wing created a two-fold threat of pace (and the self-same aerial ability Jones offered Cardiff) while still allowing Grabban to sniff for an opening. The real masterstroke, though, was the way it brought Wes Hoolahan to life. Now, the diminutive Irishman was afforded time and space in which to work, as Jerome could either head it down to him, pick it up and drive the Cardiff defence back, or hold it up allowing other runners to do likewise. That''s just how 2-1 came about. Wes had all the time in the world to clip a gorgeous ball into Lewis Grabban, who sufficiently made a nuisance of himself and held the defender off enough for Olsson to come flying in to thump the ball home.

It is with great glee that I can bring up the much-maligned Nathan Redmond again. The young winger created a goal that no one else in our team could have created for the equaliser, exploiting Fabio''s withdrawal by nipping in first ahead of Declan John by virtue of his fleet of foot alone. The end product was this time pin-point, and while Jerome could not convert the header, Hoolahan could convert the resultant spillage to send the away fans into raptures. That''s twice in two games Redmond has popped up on the right to create a goal. I think there''s a theme developing there.

From there there could only be one winner- as Russell Martin recaptured a moment of Lambert-esque nostalgia by bursting in on the right to feed Turner to make it three, it was all too obvious Cardiff were dead on their feet, and when the right-back (Yes, you are, Russ, we all know it, give it up) looped one over the top for Jerome to round Marshall and hammer the final nail in the coffin, I had to pinch myself and check it wasn''t 2011. There was only one thought going through my mind as the final whistle blew.

Welcome back, Norwich City. It''s been a while.

Player Ratings

Ruddy 7 - Not put under any great pressure, had no real chance for the goals but earnt a 7 by virtue of a couple of great saves.

Martin 8 - Vintage Russ really. No major errors of note and caused problems going forward. Grabbed himself a pair of assists.

Turner 7 - Consistent again, barring a horror show for the opener, but I just can''t give him a 6 when his goal completed the turnaround

Hooiveld 7 - Struggled with Jones in the first half, but was as monstrous as Turner in the second. A big player in more ways than one.

Olsson 7 - Great to see the flying wing-back on the scoresheet after the month or so he''s had. Better than Garrido. That is all.

Tettey 7 - As with Johnson, struggled to press Cardiff effectively, but moved the ball more and more sharply as the match progressed.

Johnson 7 - See Tettey, again. This pair will win us the league.

Lafferty 6 - Frustrating afternoon for Kyle who put a real shift in when some around him shirked it. Will be gutted not to have been out there 2nd half.

Hoolahan 8 - Yes, I know, but yes I am. The first half was the wrong game for Wes, but NA + Jerome made it the right one 2nd half. Mercurial.

Redmond 8 - 84% pass accuracy, four successful dribbles, yet another chance leading to a goal created. He''s ace. Deal with it.

Grabban 7 - Can''t fault Lewis'' determination to plug away and keep working- was pivotal in Olsson goal though the game didn''t really suit him


Jerome 9 - I think I love this man. Power, pace, and a quintessential take it round the keeper and slot it number. Game changer. MOTM (Or at least enabled Wes to be MOTM- have it your way.)


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Good read, thanks. Glad Hooiveld did ok and much prefer Russ at right back

Nice to see another North Yorkshire supporter about the place too

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