Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Norwich 2 Bolton 0

Paul Lambert’s tenure at Norwich has been marked by dazzling success after dazzling success, promotion followed by promotion.

But this, he decided, was the best performance he had seen as manager. If a two-nil home win against the division’s 17th-placed club scarcely seems like the stuff of legend, then consider the extenuating circumstances.

Forced to play more than half the game without a recognised centre-half after injuries to Daniel Ayala and Zak Whitbread, Norwich achieved only their second clean sheet in the league this season.

Against a team on an upward curve after four games unbeaten, Norwich not only won soundly, but should have won by more.

“In my time, nearly three seasons, that’s as good as it’s been,” Lambert said, “because of the circumstances and the desire they showed. They were brilliant.”

If Norwich were brilliant, then Bolton Wanderers were wretched. Only those who had witnessed previous surrenders this season could possibly believe that such a talented side could play so poorly. Just as they looked to be turning a corner, along came this display .

Bluntly, they lack goals. The presence of five strikers in Owen Coyle’s matchday squad indicated his lack of faith in any of them.

The conditions could scarcely have been more propitious for goalscoring. For 50 minutes, they were up against a defensive quartet consisting of three full-backs and a winger. Fort Knox this was not.

But it was a game characterised by profligacy, and for the first three-quarters of it Norwich were as guilty of this as the visitors – Andrew Surman’s goal being the 25th shot of the game. He had enjoyed the best chance of the first half, hitting the crossbar after Zat Knight had failed to cut out Anthony Pilkington’s cross from the right.

Despite the loss of Ayala and Whitbread, Bolton’s offensive manufacture was limited to the odd shot from distance by Martin Petrov. David Ngog was subdued by Kyle Naughton and Russell Martin, both right-backs, and both a good deal smaller than him.

At the other end, Bolton’s defence eventually cracked under relentless Norwich pressure. Not for the first time, Simeon Jackson was allowed to work the right channel, getting his low cross away far too easily. Surman was allowed to steal in towards the penalty spot. His original shot hit Tyrone Mears, but the ball rebounded back to Surman, who finished emphatically .

Grant Holt squandered two wonderful opportunities late on, but Pilkington made sure of the points when Russell Martin’s shot fell kindly for him after a corner.

“The first goal was always going to prove vital,” Coyle said. “I think we’re a lot better than we showed today, which is frustrating given how well we are doing.”

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