Report: Norwich 2-1 Bolton
A goal in either half for Norwich ensured that Wanderers fell to a 2-1 defeat at Carrow Road on Friday evening.
Cameron Jerome struck the Canaries’ first with just 12 minutes on the clock as he fired the ball beyond Andrew Lonergan, with the striker doubling his tally after the restart as he nodded home from a corner kick.
Lee Chung-Yong did give the Whites hope with four minutes remaining as he poked the ball home from close range, but despite a late Bolton rally the hosts held out for all three points.
Oscar Threlkeld came into the starting line-up in place of Kevin McNaughton for his first league start of the season, while Mark Davies was included ahead of Joe Mason as Wanderers reverted to a solitary striker.
The bench also boasted the inclusion of Liam Trotter who had been sidelined through injury in recent weeks, while Josh Vela and Max Clayton also took their places amongst the substitutes.
Wanderers started brightly, with Darren Pratley stinging the palms of Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy inside the first minute of the clash following good work from Jermaine Beckford and Lee Chung-Yong in the final third.
The early pressure from the Whites continued, with the Canaries’ defence seemingly unable to cope with the skill and pace of Chung-Yong, but the hosts themselves certainly weren’t resting on their laurels with Nathan Redmond proving his worth with a number of dangerous runs.
The pace of the match was only growing as the game wore on, with both sides relentless in their grit and determination to maintain possession and create opportunities in front of goal.
With both sides pushing for the opening goal, it was to fall to Norwich in the 12th minute as Cameron Jerome collected a through ball from Jonny Howson just outside the area and slotted home beyond the advancing Lonergan.
It was almost a second a matter of moments later as Steven Whittaker found himself in space inside the area, but the flailing body of Dorian Dervite blocked his shot and prevented Wanderers from finding themselves two down.
Having weathered the storm, the Whites were soon back on the attack and looked certain to draw level in the 17th minute as Pratley swung a tantalising ball across the face of a packed goalmouth, but nobody was able to meet his effort.
Following such a frenzied opening to proceedings, the tempo of the game did fall slightly with both sides failing to really test either goalkeeper in something of a halfway lull.
Visibly boosted by their earlier goal, Norwich were marginally ruling in possession but Wanderers still looked a threat on the counter attack with Chung-Yong and Mark Davies taking centre stage for the visitors.
With the half drawing to its conclusion, Neil Adams’ side squandered further opportunities with Jonny Howson’s volley from distance failing to trouble Lonergan while Redmond was unable to convert from the edge of the box after a slip from Matt Mills in the area.
Despite their late pressure however, the first half ended a solitary goal in Norwich’s favour.
The half time break saw Liam Trotter introduced in place of Wanderers’ captain Jay Spearing, but it was to be the hosts who saw the first glimpse of action in the second period as Jerome scooped his effort over the crossbar.
Bolton were soon back on the attack themselves however, with Pratley chasing down a lost ball and testing Ruddy with yet another dangerous ball into the Norwich penalty area.
Norwich’s pressure was soon back on though, with Redmond twice seeing thunderous drives from the edge of the box blocked by a stubborn Bolton backline, while up the other end of the field Pratley’s Beckford-bound cross was cleared away at the death.
The Canaries looked to have doubled their advantage with 56 minutes on the clock as Redmond powered through and slammed his narrow angled effort goalbound, but Lonergan was to be Bolton’s saviour as he pushed the ball onto the far post with the Carrow Road faithful already on their feet.
Having piled the pressure on Wanderers, Norwich finally found the back of the net for a second time as Jerome headed home from a corner kick with 61 minutes gone.
Following Norwich’s goal, Wanderers proceeded to introduce Max Clayton into the fray in place of Beckford, but the hosts continued to pile men forward with Steven Whittaker denied at close range by a superb reflex save by Lonergan.
Clayton almost made the perfect start with 17 minutes remaining as he broke free of the Norwich defence and played the ball beyond Ruddy, but the striker’s effort trickled agonisingly wide of the far post with a goal seemingly imminent.
Introduced as a substitute for the hosts, Lewis Grabban forced yet another impressive save out of Lonergan in the 78th minute as he attempted to curl the ball home from just outside the area, only for the goalkeeper to palm his effort away from danger.
Norwich were proving themselves to be stubborn in defence, with Wanderers being limited to long range shots as they attempted to break down a resilient Canaries backline.
With just four minutes remaining however, Chung-Yong gave Bolton hope as he capitalised on a loose ball in the box following good work from Craig Davies and poked the ball home past a stranded Ruddy.
As four minutes of added time were indicated, Wanderers pushed forward in a bid to snatch an equalising goal with the goalscorer Chung-Yong causing havoc in the area while Clayton came close in the dying embers of the game, but it was ultimately in vain as Norwich held out for victory.