Pilkington climbs high from the pits of despair
Norwich City 3 Swansea City 1
Monday 17 October 2011
Anthony Pilkington could only stand and stare at the ground when he missed an extremely presentable chance at Old Trafford just over a fortnight ago. That mistake was compounded by Manchester United quickly going on to score and eventually beat Norwich City.
The winger had two weeks to think about what might have been. Or, more accurately, two weeks and 47 seconds of this match, because that was how long it took for him to put the Canaries ahead. Norwich were in control immediately, and Russell Martin's header increased the advantage. Danny Graham gave Swansea hope before the break, but when Pilkington scored his second, it guaranteed the hosts their third win in four league games, and ninth place.
Pilkington, 23, is a Blackburn Rovers fan with a Scouse accent who idolises Alan Shearer. With three goals he has some way to go to equal Shearer's best-ever haul of 34 league goals in a campaign, which he scored in Rovers' title-winning season of 1994-95, but Pilkington showed awareness here. The player signed from Huddersfield in the summer for £2m added: "I was a centre-forward when I was a kid and I loved Shearer. He scored hundreds of goals for Blackburn so he was an easy hero. He was a fantastic player. I had his poster on the wall and everything."
Rovers come to Carrow Road in two weeks and he said: "All my family, or most of them, are Blackburn fans. We used to go and watch them all the time." He claimed it will be a good day, but with Rovers struggling, it could be a bittersweet occasion, especially if he scores.
Paul Lambert, the Norwich manager, was taking a risk when he bought Pilkington, because he had dislocated an ankle and broke his left fibula in March. But Pilkington, who came through non-league with Atherton Colleries – "I'm used to playing not just in front of nobody, but just trees and houses" – is made of strong stuff.
The same could not be said of Swansea's defence, castigated by their manager, Brendan Rodgers, for being so lax. For a team yet to win a point away this season, they were virtually condemned to defeat after 10 minutes. But Pilkington's recent experience shows they can quickly turn disaster into triumph.
Scorers: Norwich City Pilkington 1, 63, R Martin 10. Swansea City Graham 12.
Substitutes: Norwich Holt 5 (Morison, 67), Crofts (Hoolahan, 79). Swansea Dobbie 5 (Routledge, 61), Lita 4 (Dyer, 69), Richards (Taylor, 74).
Booked: Swansea Monk.
Man of the match Morison. Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Norwich 42% Swansea 58%.
Attempts on target: Norwich 8 Swansea 4.
Referee J Moss (Yorkshire).
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