Norwich manager Dean Smith reveals what impressed him about ‘brave’ Bristol City
The Canaries manager reserved praise for Bristol City in how they performed against his side
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The Robins’ eight game unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of one of the Championship’s promotion favourites.
Norwich ran into a two goal lead with Teemu Pukki scoring a brace before Tommy Conway pulled a goal back before half-time.
United States international Josh Sargent restored their two goal lead but Antoine Semenyo later came off the bench to set up a grandstand finish but they were unsuccessful in their search for a point.
City dropped to seventh following the defeat but the former Aston Villa boss praised the system that City played and spoke of their strengths.
Speaking to Norwich City’s media channels, Smith said: “It wasn’t as comfortable as I would have liked it to have been but you can’t expect it to be comfortable at this level.
“Bristol have been good this season, we have watched them over the weekend and knew they could trouble us if we allowed them to.
“We went into a two goal lead and they were brave in how they played and went for three for a three at the back. We got two good goals from a couple of mistakes from them probably.
“I thought for 20-25 minutes, we were okay and then I just felt that the scoe line relaxed us a little bit too much. We allowed them to play and if you allow them to play they will hurt you and they did.”
Smith’s opposite number Nigel Pearson admitted that City were their ‘own worst enemy’ in his assessment of the match after defensive errors crept back in. For their opening goal a ball was sent over the top and Kal Naismith missed his kick to allow Pukki to dink the ball over Daniel Bentley.
Naismith then gifted possession to Norwich on half-way with players committed and a simple pass cut through the defence to allow the Finland international to get his second goal.
Despite the two-goal scoreline, CIty took the game to Norwich and troubled their defence on a number of occasions. Nahki Wells’ cross was met well by the header of Conway which pulled a number of Norwich defenders away.
In the second-half however City’s players lost their men and Sargent was able to simply header home from a corner-kick.
Despite his side winning the match however, Smith believed both teams were guilty of making errors which resulted in an entering match that provided five goals.
“Their goal came as no surprise but I was really disappointed with us without the ball today,” he admitted.
“I didn’t think when the ball moved we didn’t move quick enough and I think their goal summed it up. The ball went for a throw-in on one side and had 11 players walking.
“They got on it and worked it from one side to another and scored a goal. It’s nice to be disappointed and still winning football games but tonight’s performance has to be better.
“I felt it was a game that was littered with unforced errors from both teams as well. Too many passes given away, certainly square passes in the middle of each half.
“We managed to pounce on their mistakes and fortunately we defended well enough to keep them out.”
City continued to be brave despite trailing by two and got themselves to within one when Semenyo scored with a first-time effort. The Norwich manager however believes that there was a foul in the build-up which led to Semenyo’s fourth goal of the campaign.
Rob Atkinson made a superb sliding tackle on Daniel Sinani which allowed CIty to break but Wells and Max Aarons collided with no foul given. Marcelino Nunez was then caught in possession with Joe Williams fouling the Chilean in the box, which could have led to a penalty had Semenyo not scored.
Smith said: “He was fouled. Unfortunately the referee has missed a pull on Max Aarons.
“We could still do better though after that Nacho has got caught in possession and not checked his shoulder. He could have given a penalty away first but the referee played on and they scored from it.”