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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: NORWICH CITY

30 December 2017

A goalless draw was enough to end Albion's run of eight successive home league defeats at home to Norwich City but Nigel Clough's men could not quite break down the stubborn resistance of the men from Carrow Road to end the year with a win.

Tom Naylor was closest to making a first home win since September with two first half chances and whilst substitute Alex Pritchard went close for Norwich late on a point was all that either side really deserved from a scrappy encounter.


With two games in three days Brewers boss opted to make a couple of changes to keep people fresh for the New Years Day clash at Sheffield Wednesday. Both John Brayford and Jake Buxton were left out as Luke Murphy and Kyle McFadzean returned to the side. Albion reverted to a back four with Lucas Akins filling in at right back. Murphy returned as part of a three man midfield alongside Tom Naylor and Jamie Allen.

Albion made a positive start with both McFadzean and Naylor having early headed chances. McFadzean looped a header over the bar from Allen's free kick but Naylor forced Angus Gunn into an excellent reaction stop after Ben Turner had helped a long diagonal delivery into the middle.

Sean Scannell also had a good early sight of the goal, Tom Flanagan's searching cross pickikng him out inside the penalty area on the right hand side but his first touch left him down and allowed the ball to run towards the covering Norwich defenders inside the six yard area.

The Brewers continued to enjoy the lion's share of the early possession and attacking threat although all too often the final ball was lacking to seriously threaten the Norwich defence. A repeat of the early free kick involving Allen and McFadzean offered Albion another threat on the Norwich goal just after the quarter of an hour mark but the outcome was the same as before, McFadzean unable to steer a header on the stretch onto the target.

A corner on the right almost unlocked the defence on 19 minutes. Allen's corner seemed to be claimed by Gunn but McFadzean's challenge for it was deemed fair by referee Robert Jones and Ben Turner was the man to try and force it over the line before a purple shirt was able to clear and spare the keeper's blushes.

With Norwich hampered by an injury to Harrison Reed in the heart of their midfield Albion poured forwards in search of the opener and Naylor was again close to his third goal in as many games rippling the side netting with an angled drive on 26 minutes. Reed then hobbled off to be replaced by Alex Tettey.

Norwich finally managed to get themselves forward and referee Jones was right on the spot to adjudge that left back James Husband had taken a dive on the half hour after jinking his way into a good position before going down even though Akins made no attempt to challenge him. The yellow card that came Husband's way left his manager and team mates less than impressed with him.

The Canaries continued to look more lively and a combination of Mario Vrancic and Wes Hoolahan earned a corner for the visitors on 34 minutes. The resulting corner forced Bywater into his first serious action, punching the ball away after Vrancic had headed the loose ball goalwards.

Norwich almost profited from a more than generous free kick award that Bywater had to punch clear from Vrancic's delivery. McFadzean seemed to be harshly penalised having won the ball before Oliveira went to ground but referee Jones awarded the visitors the chance to test the Albion defence from just outside the box.

Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Norwich City

Albion's good first half work was almost undone in the opening moments of the second half as Hoolahan was played in behind the Burton defence but he was eventually closed down as the defence swarmed back to snuff out the danger.

Akins had a good shooting opportunity in the box but scooped his effort over. The versatile Albion man was now playing as the lone front man after Brayford had entered the action at the start of the half in place of Marvin Sordell.

The game was beginning to descend into something of a midfield tussle although Scannell went close with a rasping drive that was blocked by Tom Trybull on the hour mark as Albion found a second wind.

Norwich waited until the last 20 minutes to bring on the dangerous Alex Pritchard and James Maddison for Vrancic and Hoolahan in the hope that the youngsters could unlock the Brewers defence in what remained of the game.

Pritchard had a free kick from all of thirty yards that deflected over the bar after Maddison had been brought down but Albion dealt with the resulting corner to see off the imminent threat.

Joe Sbarra was introduced for Sean Scannell for the remaining thirteen minutes of the game as Albion made their own attempt to force a winner from the contest.

Norwich started to create more going forwards and Pritchard forced Bywater to save low to his left after cutting in from the left and trying a right foot shot.

Albion threw on Hope Akpan in the closing minutes but it was Sbarra that forced a save from Gunn with a rising effort after a sharp run from his right wing station.

Neither side could find a breakthrough in the remainder of the game and whilst a draw ended Albion's run of home league defeats results elsewhere meant that the Brewers will start 2018 back in the Championship bottom three.


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