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    Norwich City 1-0 Southampton: Shot Shy Southampton Shocked Again as Sad Sadio is a Substitute


    It would have taken a brave person to predict the outcome of Norwich City against Southampton on Saturday, with both teams entering 2016 with a string of inconsistent form. The hosts beat Manchester United at Old Trafford last week, before being outclassed by Tottenham Hotspur and then scraping a nervous but important victory against Aston Villa on Monday. Meanwhile, Southampton had lost 5 of their last 7 games in 2015, despite battering Arsenal 4-0 just a week ago.

    Even the line-ups were unpredictable with Sadio Mane originally named on the teamsheet for the visitors, before being dropped to the bench when he turned up late to the team meeting. A strange outcome considering the Southampton team would have travelled to Carrow Road together. Oriel Romeu was also missing due to suspension, whilst Jordy Clasie and James Ward-Prowse came into the team. Norwich made just one change from the side that beat Aston Villa, with Gary O'Neil replacing Graham Dorrans. 



    Southampton started the strongest with Steven Davis having a shot blocked by Russell Martin and Shane Long heading over under pressure from Declan Rudd in the opening five minutes. Jonny Howson went close on 11 minutes when a mistake from Jose Fonte fell to Howson, who could only guide his shot wide of the post. The visitors came back again with Ryan Bertrand dribbling down the left before crossing to Ward-Prowse but his tame effort was straight at Rudd. 

    The sides continued to spar between them as both teams went close with good opportunities. Nathan Redmond found Dieumerci Mbokani who could only prod wide from two yards, before Shane Long was thwarted by Rudd when he raced clear of the Norwich defence. Wes Hoolahan was looking dangerous and he almost made Maarten Stekelenburg pay for a weak punch when his cheeky lob landed on the roof of the net. As the half entered it's final five minutes, there was one more opportunity for either side, with Jordy Clasie forcing a fine save from Rudd with an effort from the edge of the box, before Mbokani slid a shot over the bar from a Howson cross. An even game went to the break goalless, crying out for a bit of final third quality from both teams.



    That quality was rarely seen in the opening stages of the second half with Alex Tettey producing the only shot, a wild effort from 25 yards that went high and wide. Alex Neil replaced Redmond with Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe and his introduction seemed to help open the game up for a couple of minutes. Russell Martin glanced a Jonny Howson cross wide, before Dusan Tadic hooked an effort over from a tight angle.

    A dull game finally sparked into life with 20 minutes to go as Victor Wanyama was sent off for a second bookable offence, a reckless challenge on Odjidja-Ofoe. It was the opening that Norwich were looking for and they gratefully took their opportunity just minutes later. The lively Odjidja-Ofoe went down the right wing before cutting a pass back to Alex Tettey who guided an effort with his weaker left foot into the top corner to give Norwich a vital lead. Both managers responded with double substitutions as Harrison Read and Sadio Mane replaced Clasie and Tadic, whilst Cameron Jerome and Martin Olsson came on for Dieumerci Mbokani and Wes Hoolahan. The visitors huffed and puffed but could not find a breakthrough, as Norwich's third win in four matches took them into 14th, whilst Southampton drop down to 13th position. 



    A rampant Norwich face Manchester City in the FA Cup next weekend, before a trip to Stoke a few days later. Southampton will have to pick themselves up before hosting Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and a tough trip to Watford.

    Chris Lincoln's Man of the Match: Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe
    The youngster has looked promising in recent weeks and he lit up a dull game when he came on with 25 minutes to go. He was the man who tempted Wanyama into a challenge that resulted in a red card, before setting up Tettey for his second goal in three matches.
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    Item Reviewed: Norwich City 1-0 Southampton: Shot Shy Southampton Shocked Again as Sad Sadio is a Substitute Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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