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The media review: Norwich City

How the newspapers and websites reported Saturday's goalless draw.

By Nick Szczepanik • 03 April 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Jeremy Sarmiento made a late appearance from the bench against Norwich City

Goalless draws are a challenge for match reporters, but also an opportunity to leave behind the chronological kick-by-kick stuff and concentrate on one theme or one incident. And there are no prizes whatever for guessing which was the one incident in the stalemate against Norwich City that the writers seized upon.

Neil Maupay’s penalty miss found its way into the intro in every Sunday paper and may even make the Eastbourne Herald by the time the ball finally lands in the vicinity of its offices sometime next week.

Arindam Rej used Maupay’s kick to tie a few ideas together in the Sunday Telegraph. He wrote: “Neal Maupay had a look of disbelief after he skied over a penalty, meaning that it was another frustrating failure by Brighton to score here - and many might have wondered how they could not make their pressure count, with small pockets of fans booing them off as a result.

“The spot-kick miss meant Norwich’s Sam Byram was not punished for a shocking handball. Byram handled with an out-stretched arm, like a basketball player, in the penalty box just before the half-hour mark - but Maupay blew his chance to become Brighton’s highest goal scorer in Premier League matches, instead remaining level with Glenn Murray.

“Brighton have only scored once in seven games - and they were resisted here by the likes of Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul and visiting captain Grant Hanley, somehow failing to profit from one of their 30 shots.

“Brighton’s Argentina midfielder Alexis Mac Allister arguably looked the likeliest to unlock the opposition but ultimately could not.”

02:42

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Veltman's Norwich reaction

Another approach to reporting a scoreless game is to fill the space where descriptions of goals would have been with quotes from the managers, which was the route taken by Tusdiq Din in the Sunday Times. But he also pointed out that “the battle involved two teams who had lost their past six games, a wretched run that Brighton did all they could to move away from.

“Brighton passed and moved without an end product, and for a side who drew many of their early Premier League fixtures, the likes of Danny Welbeck, Maupay and Leandro Trossard will feel that this was a match they should have grabbed by the scruff of the neck.”

In the Mail on Sunday, Lewis Steele wrote that “Brighton dominated but were wasteful and, while Norwich defended resolutely, they did quite literally nothing in an attacking sense until the 80th minute. A sea of green and yellow Norwich fans were in good voice but that horribly misjudged penalty was all they had to cheer about.

“Byram - perhaps with the sun in his eyes - gave the kick away and was lucky not to be punished further. He can thank his fans and goalkeeper Tim Krul for that. The Dutchman, often cited as a penalty specialist, launched into a fair dose of trash talking to put Maupay off, as the fans behind the goal joined in the circus.

“'As a human being he will be low and that's normal,' said Brighton boss Graham Potter on Maupay, who shanked another big chance in the second half. 'He's had this before. That's the life of a striker and he has to deal with that. He has the support of us, his team and the supporters. And he will bounce back. At the highest level you have to suffer, and we are suffering. Neal is suffering. He must see it as a way to improve as a person.'

01:43

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Potter's Norwich verdict

“Norwich played like a team consigned to relegation and any signs of fight shown in Smith's first months at the club are long gone. Brighton dominated the ball but could not find the net, largely down to steely goalkeeping from their former No 1 Krul. He denied Joel Veltman's header from point-blank range, while Lewis Dunk and Danny Welbeck also went close.

“At the other end, it wasn't until the 80th minute that Norwich ventured forward with some intent. Pukki drove at Brighton and chipped the ball to an unmarked Rashica at the back post, who rushed his shot and sent it high into the stands. It summed this match up.”

Isabelle Barker of the Sun on Sunday was one reporter who did write a conventional incident-by-incident report, and it revealed that the game was not the featureless affair that Canaries manager Dean Smith tried to claim it had been.

“Graham Potter went gung-ho from the start with zippy duo Tariq Lamptey and Danny Welbeck entering the fray,” she wrote. “Lamptey, having shaken off the illness that forced him to withdraw from the England under-21s, was back with a bang.

“Lamptey was pulling the strings and the hosts’ dominance was building, they just needed another sniff on goal. That arrived when Pascal Gross’ cross struck Sam Byram’s arm and [referee Simon] Hooper pointed to the spot then Maupay blazed over.

02:14

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PL Highlights: Albion 0 Norwich 0

“The shot-shy Seagulls have scored only ten times at the Amex, the joint-worst top-flight home record. But they came close again as a March free-kick was whipped to Mac Allister who rifled agonisingly close to the far post. 

“There was another flurry of chances before the break with Gross, Mac Allister, and Cucurella combining beautifully before Norwich headed away the danger. March then smashed over from the resulting set piece. 

“It didn’t take long for the Seagulls to claw their way back into the driving seat, but again they had to get past Krul. The lethal stopper leapt like a cat to tip over a point-blank Vetlman header, before Maupay curled into the side netting. 

“March pulled the trigger from distance but ice-cool Krul scooped it up. Maupay missed another sitter and was hauled off for Enock Mewpu on 78 minutes but no one could find a breakthrough.”

The Observer noted that “after a delay to the start of the second half due to referee Hooper experiencing technical difficulties with his earpiece, normal service quickly resumed, with Trossard’s quick feet and deflected shot forcing the first of three dangerous corners in a row.

10:03

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Extended PL Highlights: Albion 0 Norwich 0

“Krul produced a wonderful save from the first to deny his fellow Netherlands international Veltman from a close-range header before Welbeck’s flick-on forced another corner, but Maupay, who was found at the back post, could only fire this one into the side-netting.

“Veltman went close again with a header blocked by the Norwich captain Grant Hanley before a rare venture down the other end saw Ben Gibson’s effort from a Billy Gilmour free-kick gathered by Robert Sánchez in the home goal.

“Another golden chance was presented to Maupay with 13 minutes left but again it was not taken. Trossard skipped away from Mathias Normann on the right and cut back for Brighton’s top scorer but his side-footed shot from eight yards went wide.

“Maupay was withdrawn immediately afterwards and walked around the pitch to warm applause. Brighton’s manager Graham Potter praised the home fans for their response to Maupay. “A huge thank you to them for that because he gave everything in the game but it just wasn’t his day,” said Potter.

On the BBC website, Harry de Cosemo summed up. “Brighton had 29 shots and more than 60% possession but crucially only hit the target four times. That has been a long-running issue for Potter's side, who again showcased their quality in the build-up but were let down in front of goal.

“It simply wasn't Maupay's day, from the moment he miscued his effort with the goal gaping in the first half. Goalkeeper Krul's mind-games before his spot-kick clearly paid off because it sailed over the bar.

“There were bright moments from Trossard and Mac Allister, while Tariq Lamptey clearly thrives in a more advanced role on the right, but this was not the way Brighton will have wanted to end their losing run.”

Finally, this column does not usually include many comments from the local papers that report on Albion’s opponents, for the simple reason that they can be a little more one-eyed than the generally fair-minded representatives of the Sussex media. But fair play to Norfolk’s Eastern Daily Press for not trying to paint Norwich’s performance as any better than it was.

“Dejection dominates again for Norwich City fans this evening after returning to Premier League action with an abject display that somehow earned a 0-0 draw against a totally dominant Brighton.

“Dean Smith's side had to withstand large spells of pressure and even saw Neal Maupay blaze a penalty over the bar to halt a six-game run of defeats in the Premier League. 

“City failed to threaten Robert Sanchez in the Albion goal and didn't record a single shot on target in the game.”