West Brom 0 Norwich 2 match report: Leroy Fer ensures Norwich make most of clean sheet
Chris Hughton gets a moment to saviour with a rare away win
Saturday 07 December 2013
Away wins have not come around very often for Chris Hughton’s Norwich, so this was a moment to savour for the man now perceived, at least by the bookmakers, to be the Premier League manager in most danger of losing his job. The demise of Martin Jol at Fulham saw Hughton installed as 7-4 favourite.
Now Steve Clarke may find the odds attached to his own future somewhat shorter than he will find comfortable. Hughton’s victory – only his fourth in 27 away league matches as Norwich manager – inflicted on Albion a third consecutive defeat and a record of one win in nine matches that leaves them only two points clear of the bottom three places.
Ruddy marvellous might have been Hughton’s summing up, given John Ruddy’s part in the welcome bonus of a clean sheet, which have been rarer on the road even than wins. Life has not been easy for the Norwich goalkeeper, behind a defence that had leaked 22 goals in the space of five away games before this one. This time, they were as brave, disciplined and committed as any goalkeeper could have wished for, while as the last line Ruddy was faultless.
Saves from Youssouf Mulumbu and Victor Anichebe in the first half, and Stéphane Sessègnon and Shane Long in the second, ensured that when lapses did occur, as they always would in the face of relentless Albion attacking, a back four in which Sébastien Bassong was outstanding was not made to pay. “After the Liverpool defeat, it was the ideal response,” Hughton commented.
Not that Albion could hold Ruddy entirely responsible for their failings. Sessègnon in particular could be held to account, missing a clear chance from a first-half corner when the ball slipped under his feet and later setting himself up, with a forceful run, for a one-on-one with Ruddy only to slide his shot wide. He was unlucky, though when another effort deflected wide after hitting defender Martin Olsson on the arm.
Norwich, by contrast, were unusually efficient, scoring twice from only three shots on target. Gary Hooper, fed by the young Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer, shot them ahead in the 13th minute, and Fer, driving for goal on the end of a pass from Shane Redmond, made the result safe with only a minute left.
Both times, incidentally – England take note – it could be argued that it was the Uruguayan defender, Diego Lugano, who might have done better, although Clarke felt that generally he acquitted himself well standing in for the suspended Jonas Olsson.
West Bromwich (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Lugano, Ridgewell (Long, h-t); Mulumbu, Yacob; Amalfitano (Berahino, h-t), Sessègnon, Brunt; Anichebe (Vydra, 80).
Norwich (4-4-2): Ruddy; Whittaker (Martin, 89), Turner, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond, Johnson, Howson, Fer; Hooper (Becchio, 89), Elmander (Murphy, 75).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the match: Bassong (Norwich)
Match rating: 6/10
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