Twice Norwich found themselves on the canvas on Saturday, but, characteristically, twice they rallied. They have become the Premiership's equivalent of Joe "the Human Punchbag" Grim, the American heavyweight it was impossible to knock out. There is, though, one crucial difference. Grim never won any of his 63 professional bouts, whereas Norwich have now won two of their last four and have climbed out of the relegation zone.
Impressive as their resilience is, Norwich cannot continue to give away one-goal starts, as David Bentley acknowledged. "If we carry on going behind we are never going to be able to express ourselves the way we can."
They will find few teams so accommodating as Bolton. Their reputation may be for a rugged pragmatism enlivened by the genius of Jay-Jay Okocha, but Norwich more than matched them physically and then had the wit to capitalise on defending that Sam Allardyce, the Bolton manager, termed "pathetic" and "immature".
Having gone ahead through Okocha's 19th-minute penalty, Bolton conceded almost immediately, Fernando Hierro allowing Mathias Svensson to drift behind him and convert Bentley's cross. Hierro promptly restored Bolton's advantage from a Stelios Giannakopoulos corner, and had a thumping Radhi Jaidi header from another set piece not bounced clear off Robert Green's chest, the game could have been over by half-time. As it was, though, Bentley lured Gary Speed into tripping him to earn a penalty from which Darren Huckerby equalised and then, with seven minutes remaining, it was Bentley again whose cross looped between Hierro and Nicky Hunt for Svensson to add his second.
Bentley said, "We are just getting on with staying in the Premiership. We played good football and kept battling and used our brains to get a result."
Grim's toughness was the result of an unusually thick skull. Norwich play to a pleasing aesthetic, but Saturday's success was about a similar hardheadedness.
Goals: Okocha (19, pen) 0-1; Svensson (20) 1-1; Hierro (23) 1-2; Huckerby (70, pen) 2-2; Svensson (83) 3-2
Norwich (4-2-3-1): Green; Edworthy, Fleming, Doherty, Charlton; Safri, Helveg; Jonson (McVeigh, 79), Bentley, Huckerby; Svensson Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Drury, Jarvis, Shackell
Bolton (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Jaidi, Hierro, N'Gotty (Cesar, 90); Giannakopoulos, Speed, Campo (Nolan, 70), Okocha (Ferdinand, 85), Pedersen; Davies Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Ben Haim.
Referee: B Knight (Kent)
Booked: Svensson (Norwich); N'Gotty, Campo, Hunt (Bolton)
Man of the match: Bentley
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