James Messenger dissects the multifaceted nature of Norwich City's draw against West Brom.

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In the grand scheme of things, Jordan Rhodes’ late equaliser against West Brom at the Hawthorns could prove to be invaluable.

Amidst the jubilation of yet another late revival, the frustration amongst many City fans was the complete difference in approach and performance from the first half to the second.

In the opening 45, Norwich’s young cohort of players were outplayed, outmanoeuvred and outwitted by the Baggies’ experienced squad, which featured Premier League-standard talents such as Dwight Gayle, Kieran Gibbs and Jay Rodriguez.

For large swathes of the opening period, the hosts were first to every second ball and found significant space to exploit on Norwich’s left-hand flank – as proved by the opening goal, with debutant Mason Holgate given the freedom of West Bromwich to whip a ball in towards Gayle at the near post.

Darren Moore’s side pressurised the Canaries into making mistake after mistake. Tim Krul – who had a woeful first half with the ball at his feet – conceded possession on numerous occasions, but that was more to do with Albion’s narrowing of the angles than his inability to spray accurate passes to his full-backs.

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In seasons gone by, that Norwich side would’ve gone on to concede three of four, but this year feels different.

Helped by a string of super second-half stops from Krul – who more than atoned for his passing – the Yellows came out with a renewed vigour and purpose to their play.

Their passive, slow, laborious football was replaced by an injection of pace and energy. After an anonymous first period, Mario Vrancic started to move the ball through the thirds quicker, while Teemu Pukki endeavoured to make his trademark runs in-behind.

Max Aarons seemed to have an abundance of space in front of him to exploit, and on the opposite flank, Jamal Lewis grew in confidence after a difficult first quarter, which is understandable after his recent injury layoff.

The turnaround was astonishing, and full credit must go to Daniel Farke for the way in which he rallied his troops in such an intense environment.

It seems obvious, but all three of Norwich’s substitutes made a difference.

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Jordan Rhodes showed his predatory instincts in the penalty area with his goal and Kenny McLean’s deliveries were first-class, while Dennis Srbeny produced another excellent cameo and forced a good low save from Sam Johnstone within moments of coming on.

All three have certainly staked a claim for starts against Birmingham. This kind of selection dilemma is something that Farke will relish, and with the possibility of Marco Stiepermann also returning, changes to formation and personnel could both be on the horizon.

Against West Brom, the main thing was that Norwich didn’t lose. And despite being below par for 50% of the contest, they escaped with a point.

How crucial could that be, come the end of the season?

James Messenger

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