Norwich went into the game against Bolton still hurting from their 3-0 defeat to a Sunderland squad managed by ex Norwich manager, Martin O’Neil. Lambert was adamant the team were wanting to right the wrongs of their last game and take all 3 points from Bolton. Before the game the Anglian Home Improvements Player of the Month award went to Zak Whitbread for some solid defensive displays over the past month.
The game got off to a lively start, and although Bolton had the first attack, which never developed into anything dangerous, it was a rare attack as Norwich pinned them into their own half for the majority of the game.
Simeon Jackson was starting the game up front with club captain, Grant Holt, and he was looking lively, linking up well with Pilkington down the right, and sending a ball in for Holt to volley, but his shot didn’t trouble Bolton’s keeper Bogdan.
Jackson was then on the receiving end of a good ball after Surman kept the ball in play, dragged it back for Jackson to shoot, but his venomous shot went wide. He got another chance moments later, but Bogdan denied the Canadian a goal with a good save.
Chris Eagles tried to attack down the left side for Bolton, but a great sliding block from loanee, Daniel Ayala prevented an attack. However, this challenge came at a cost as he hobbled off, which saw Russell Martin fill in at centre back.
Norwich were keeping the ball well, playing patiently to work an opportunity at goal and it nearly paid off on 24 minutes. Wes Hoolahan drifted between players before finding Holt on the edge of the box, his flick fell to Surman, but his half volley on his weaker foot bounced back off the bar and was cleared to safety.
In form centre back, Zak Whitbread, was then forced to come off injured to be replaced by winger Elliot Bennett, which meant Lambert had to re-position his defence. Bennett went in at right back, forcing Kyle Naughton into centre back with Martin and Drury continued to play left back.
By this point as a fan I was quite concerned about our defence, with no natural centre backs in the team and Bolton began to push forward at the end of the first half. Their most dangerous player throughout the game was experienced winger Martin Petrov, who nearly put the visitors in the lead just before half time.
The Canaries came racing out the blocks after half time and should have scored within the first couple of minutes. Great play saw the ball fall to Drury on the left, his cross floated beautifully over the Bolton defence and fell to club hero Grant Holt, who you would bet money on scoring with his head. It turned out to be an off day for Holt who headed 10 yards wide.
It looked like it was going to be a day where nothing went right for the boys in yellow, as Simeon Jackson missed two good chances.
With no natural centre backs, Bolton manager Owen Coyle sent on Kevin Davies, who always causes trouble for defences, with his brute force and desire to win everything in the air. Davies pairing with Ngog forced Ruddy into his first save of the game, but it wasn’t too troubling for the keeper who is pushing for an England call up.
The game got a bit stale and the game looked like it was going to turn into a bore draw, that was until Drew Surman popped up at the near post. I thought he had lost a lot of confidence after his earlier miss, as he put a fair few passes astray, but he more than made up for it with a stunning strike. Jackson drilled in the ball from the right, Surman’s first shot was saved, but the second was unstoppable.
Bolton’s most dangerous player then forced another save from Ruddy, with a stinging left footed strike that was parried over by the Norwich no.1.
Pilkington then worked the right flank brilliantly and his low cross into the 6 yard box was met by an outstretched leg of Holt, but the ball flew well over the bar. Norwich sealed the win with 5 minutes left when Martin struck from the edge of the crowded penalty area, and Bogdan’s save fell straight to the player who reacted quickest – Pilkington slotted the ball away from a few yards out.
The Anglian Home Improvements Man of the Match went to Simeon Jackson for his energetic performance.