If you want to see an event that is dripping with drama and excitement, forget Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Palladium or the House of Commons; merely purchase a ticket to consume Norwich City football club.
Every time the instinctive response is to proclaim that this hurdle is too mighty to overcome and this time, they will fall short.
Not Norwich City.
Be it a case of rolling their sleeves up or scoring at the very death of a fixture; this team embraces the adversities they are presented with. Luck isn’t a factor when the repetition of the resilience has been so pertinent consecutively throughout the campaign. Every question is asked is responded to despite the clocking furiously ticking down, the odds being stacked against them or the circumstances surrounding them.
Discussion surrounding Mario Vrancic’s technique could fill these column inches. To have the composure and self-belief to not only strike the free kick but also nominate yourself in the fiercest of storms to take it is the epitome of character. Although this season has produced moments of unthinkable madness, on the surface, this appeared a moment that wasn’t going to arrive.
It could prove itself to be a moment of significance.
Given the enduring nature of the games against Reading and Wigan respectively, a defeat against Wednesday could have damaged a degree of self-belief and left the door ajar for doubting to creep in. Not only was that free kick a moment of magic, but it was also one of huge importance to the complexity of this run in.
They’ve played some pulsating football at periods, where the ball has glided off the surface magically with a fluidity in their passages of possession which has been to the detriment of multiple sides this campaign. However, that fearlessness, that willingness to take responsibility and the relentlessness of this Norwich side is simply phenomenal.
Admittedly, they struggled to locate top gear once more but, at this point of the season, the priority is ensuring they gather up the necessary points to cross the line. Equally, the absence of Emi Buendia once again will be emphasised given the inability to rid themselves of that glaring statistic surrounding his inclusion.
For periods, this was a Norwich side visibly feeling the pressure of a promotion picture continuing to leave punters breathless.
With every twist or turn, a new emotion. With every goal, a seismic reaction. Every week, constant change and theatrics. Those circling dates for promotion may merely want to return to taking it one fixture at a time.
Throughout the piece, Norwich ultimately didn’t deserve to walk away from the fixture with nothing to show. This wasn’t abject nor devoid of quality from the hosts, but they did lack the incisiveness and precision of their usual free-flowing philosophy.
Inexperience, perhaps, is beginning to seep out slightly. Norwich appeared more desperate by trying to force the issue on occasions while in possession on Friday night. In these parts, nerves are increasing given the last three results, but yet, Norwich could still find themselves in the Premier League on Monday night providing they conquer Stoke, and other results go their way.
For now, the Canaries must attempt to eradicate any nerves creeping their way into the camp.
In the first half, the game was frenetic and expansive.
Both sides displayed an intensity which made for compulsive viewing but equally possessed moments of quality within that. This wasn’t an unambitious travelling outfit nor a home side who were particularly poor; it was a clash between two sides desperate to give their all for the cause.
It was Norwich who dominated proceedings in those opening exchanges, however. Beyond the shouts for penalties and sending offs was some fantastic graft to dismantle the Wednesday defensive shape. They discovered joy particularly with the overlapping full-backs occupying positions behind the defensive backline.
Sheffield Wednesday, navigated by Steve Bruce, look a side who possess a huge degree of promise.
Those occupying the corridors of power can only wonder where they’d be positioned in the table had they have handed Bruce the reigns prior to the season kicking off in August. In Fernando Forestieri, they possess one of the leagues most exciting operators but the equilibrium Bruce has managed to concoct is impressive in itself given how dysfunctional this side was earlier in the campaign.
To be on the cusp of victory at the league leaders and to have it snatched away is, initially, painful but those supporters will reflect on a display which was tactically, technically and physically competent while dreaming of what might be should Bruce discover a consistency of this level of performance.
Norwich’s midfield still lacked the balance despite changes that saw Todd Cantwell dropped from the starting eleven.
Moritz Leitner was deployed in the wider role and was found, often, in a more central position due to his frustration at not receiving enough of the ball. Leitner’s performance, considering this was his first start since December and he was playing out of position, was multifaceted but equally displayed signs of the player who has adhered himself to the Canary nation.
Had Leitner of been provided with more minutes since his return from injury, perhaps completing ninety wouldn’t have posed as much of a test.
With Buendia’s suspension concluding, that jigsaw in midfield may be repaired with a return to the dominance and control the Canaries have maintained throughout this season. Three draws aren’t simply due to Buendia’s evasion; there are other mitigating circumstances but missing a player of his quality inevitably doesn’t aide things.
Despite some questionable refereeing decisions which led to a complex fixture, Norwich found a result to take them a point closer to the ultimate prize.
Sure, it wasn’t what most had wished for upon arrival in NR1 on Friday evening, but right now it’s about ensuring they continue to set the pace and keep coming away with points. Their position is healthy, the games are rapidly diminishing, and the nature of this race keeps proving too much on occasion on all three contenders.
With four games to play, the Canaries sit five points clear of Leeds in third position. Leeds themselves proved how difficult these circumstances are and the constraints they place upon players. All City can do is focus on themselves before a difficult trip to Stoke City on Easter Monday.
Regardless of what happens, this team can never be written off.