Norwich timidity reaches new low in defeat to Cardiff

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Even by Norwich City's standards, the 2-1 Premier League defeat at Cardiff City was a bizarre episode.

- Report: Cardiff 2-1 Norwich City

Chris Hughton's men created a glut of late chances but found David Marshall again in inspirational form against his previous employers to earn Ole Gunnar Solksjaer his first Premier League win since replacing Malky Mackay.

Robert Snodgrass capped a tumultuous week in his footballing life with an early opener after a build-up dominated by a verbal stand-off with Norwich fans and then his very public contrition. But the Scottish international was edged out of the headlines by Cardiff's second half blitz through another Norwich old boy, Craig Bellamy, and Kenwyne Jones.

Canaries' midfielder Alex Tettey emerged from a shell-shocked away dressing room afterwards to pronounce he had just left a scene of utter dejection. The Norwegian drew parallels with a funeral. Tettey's compatriot, Solskjaer, beamed that his players owed Marshall "at least one drink" for his heroics.

It was that type of afternoon. All or nothing; black or white; dejection or elation. Norwich were half-way to the perfect away performance before imploding during 80 seconds of pure mayhem. Gary Hooper's errant square pass across his own penalty box was pounced on by Manchester United loanee Wilfried Zaha who fed Bellamy to roll under the advancing John Ruddy.

Norwich survived another mad goalmouth scramble in the immediate aftermath, but from the resulting corner debutant Jones lashed into the roof of the net from close range after his initial header struck the back of Russell Martin.
Marshall breathtakingly denied Nathan Redmond and Leroy Fer before Snodgrass' near post header thudded against a post and captain Sebastien Bassong rose unmarked to head over six yards out deep in stoppage time.

There was a surreal element to Norwich's most potent away outing for many a month. This was a victory they contrived to squander which explained the mood of despondency as Hughton's players undertook their own post-mortem.

The Canaries' inability to score goals has checked any real momentum all season, but very rarely have they carved out so many opportunities; arguably not since Cardiff's corresponding visit to Norfolk which ended goalless largely due to Marshall's obduracy. The almost cyclical debates about Hughton's ability to govern will inevitably re-surface again, but the City boss was proactive in his initial line-up and his triple substitution.

The Canaries' character has been routinely tested at various points of this most trying of campaigns, but these type of defeats trigger more pertinent lines of questioning about self-belief and the ruthless streak required to deal with a side who went into the match propping up the rest of the division and without a league win in seven.

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