Norwich City 2 (Duffy 4, Gomes Sara 43)
Leeds United 3 (Duffy og 63, Summerville 77, 85)
21st October 2023, Championship.
Wow! Where do we start?
Well, let’s start by saying that, at the very least, this will in the long term prove to be another character-building result, achieved against all the odds at a ground where most teams will struggle to impose themselves. It is a result that keeps our momentum alive, albeit a game in which some of our weaknesses were exposed in a frustrating first half.
Too often this season we have been caught cold at the start of a game. Less than four minutes in this case and it was one of those defensive frailties that periodically returns to haunt us. Often defensively sound, we still look shaky defending corners and it has been the case all season. Once again, an opposition player found too much space at the near post and, unmarked, was able to glance a header past Meslier. Yet again we gave the opposition a head start and a huge confidence boost, not to mention getting the home fans excited.
Another weakness we have shown periodically this season is in finding the target and this first half was a classic example of that. Time and time again we carved through the Norwich defence with lovely approach play only to fail miserably to strike the ball at the all-important 8-foot by 8-yard target! Glen Kamara, Joel Piroe, Georginio Rutter, Dan James and Crysencio Summerville should all have at least made the home ‘keeper earn his corn and should probably have beaten him, but every one of them fired wide or over the bar. Even by our standards, it was finishing more befitting the Sunday League than the Championship.
As so often when a side misses boatloads of chances, the opposition then capitalises by putting a chance of their own away and so it was today. Once again though, the manner of the Leeds defending was more akin to a black-and-white comedy movie featuring the Keystone Cops than the colour of a Championship football match.
So, somehow, we walked off at halftime two goals down when we should really have been 2 – 5 up! Daniel Farke recognised this and told the BBC after the game: "I was already pleased with the first-half performance. We created more chances than you would expect at a difficult away ground and we missed an unbelievable amount of chances.”. It was just a matter of more of the same and holding our nerve and maybe getting a kick-start with a bit of luck.
The bit of luck came when Dan James finally backed himself and got behind the defence to pull the ball across the face of the goal and Duffy could only walk the ball into his own net. Why doesn’t Dan back himself like that more often? Just get to that byline and get the ball across for goodness sake.
It took Leeds over an hour to make that break through but from that point on Leeds showed what our real prowess is…and it’s all about attack.
It was pretty much all one-way traffic for the final half hour and it was just a matter of whether we could find our shooting boots. Farke went for a ‘sh** or bust’ approach and withdrew Sam Byram and Glen Kamara, replacing them with Patrick Bamford and Willy Gnonto. We thus then had just two recognised defenders on the pitch at this point – Struijk and Rodon and they played in a three at the back with Archie Gray for the next half-hour. It was like the battle of the Alamo out there as Leeds laid siege to the Canaries' cage and fully proved that, in our case, attack is most definitely the best form of defence!
It still took a couple of moments of magic to set the record straight and this time it was step forward young Crysencio Summerville. His performances do seem to be random – oscillating between the sublime and the anonymous - but today he was clearly on it even in that frustrating first half when he was as guilty as anyone of wasting chances.
The equaliser came in the 77th minute and it made those misses in the first half all the more unfathomable as Crysencio curled an inch-perfect shot in off the far post. It was an unstoppable shot.
Still, Leeds piled forward and the home crowd were visibly nervous now while the Leeds fans and players scented a famous victory. It came eight minutes later and was another superb piece of finishing from little Crysencio.
Georginio played one of his trademark forward passes right into the path of Summerville who was able to take it in his stride and set off from fifteen yards inside his own half. He raced away, stepped inside a defender, and stroked the ball all along the turf inside the righthand post! Again, you could only wonder how he could be so clinical now compared with those first-half clangers!
So, at the end of the day, we have added another vital three points to the tally and we are now 3rd in the table, albeit still a long way behind the top two. The big positive from today was undoubtedly the attacking flair we showed – even in that first half, despite the poor finishing - and the form of Crysencio. We have seen purple patches from him before so let’s hope he puts a string of good performances together again now. The negatives, and clearly things we need to improve, include our set-piece defending and our finishing. A few people have been heard to say it is just a matter of time before we absolutely hammer somebody and that second-half performance would suggest they may well be right.
Norwich City Leeds Utd
Possession 46% 54%
Shots 14 19
On Target 4 8
Corners 7 7
Fouls 11 13