City came from behind to beat FC Augsburg courtesy of second half goals from recent signing Youssouf Mulumbu and Lewis Grabban. Alex Neil will be pleased with the result given that for large parts of the game City were second best. Perseverance paid off, and City were clinical when the all-important chances materialised.
Outfitted in yellow, green, orange and black, Norwich took on Bundesliga side FC Augsburg in their fifth preseason match. This game quickly proved to be another step up from previous fixtures, moving away from just fitness purposes. Alex Neil opted for a strong side of mainly first team players, and the partnership of Tettey and Mulumbu may be a precursor for the coming season. Grabban was given the nod up front with Cameron Jerome later being revealed to have a minor injury, however nothing serious.
Augsburg dominated the first half, playing quick dynamic passes and using possession effectively. Ji’s early header was an early sign of what was to come. He later went very near with a close-range shot, however John Ruddy pulled out an instinctive one-handed save to turn it wide.
Norwich often struggled to get out of their half when regaining possession with Augsburg pressing high up the field. However, there was an evident shift towards a more counter-attacking style for Norwich – something they will likely need to utilise when up against superior opposition in the Premier League.
Alex Tettey’s thirty yard effort early on summed up City’s struggles. However, they grew into what was a well-contested match as time went on.
Augsburg retained the attacking threat which they had shown right from the start and went close when Caiuby volleyed to Ruddy’s near post. Again, the Norwich ‘keeper was on his toes and competently parried the shot behind for a corner. Augsburg’s Ji missed the best chance of the first half after skinning Russell Martin, but he then butchered the shot, blazing it wide of the near post.
The breakthrough came in the after the break as the rain continued to fall. Norwich did enjoy some large spells of possession but they still struggled to create any clear-cut chances. The opening goal went to the home side as Trochowski’s thirty yard free kick went all the way in. It appeared as though the defensive players expected the free kick to be played into the box as a cross. Instead Trochowski fired it with pace and reaped the rewards, perhaps profiting from the poor weather conditions and slippery surface. Either way, Ruddy was wrong-footed and City were behind.
Augsburg had a big chance to double their lead as Molders found himself bearing down on goal, but this time the shot was straight at Ruddy.
Alex Neil introduced Howson, replacing Redmond, in order to try and change the dynamic of the game. Toffolo had City’s first notable chance in the second half, but it was a half-chance, with the angle being against him. His shot was well-struck but equally well-saved.
Johnson nearly latched on to a loose ball as City seemed to be putting a bit more pressure on; a crucial, well-timed block kept it at one-nil.
Augsburg again threatened but their downfall on this occasion was the pitch. Four players slipped over in succession – Russell Martin too – and consequently the attack broke down. The rain fell relentlessly all afternoon.
City had been beginning to gain a foothold, and their best chance all game fell to Grabban on 70 minutes. Toffolo the supplier, floating the ball over the Augsburg defence for the recently out-of-favour striker to chase. It sat up nicely to smash on the half-volley, and Grabban did just that albeit on his weaker foot. It skewed wide of the post, much to the frustration of the City players. That won’t have impressed the onlooking glare of Alex Neil.
But then the pressure paid off. Hoolahan this time involved, finding Mulumbu free in the box, and the ex-West Brom midfielder steadied himself and fired past the Augsburg goalkeeper. Impressive composure, clinical finish.
As time ticked on, City would probably have been happy with a draw. But in the 89th minute, a through-ball found Grabban on the shoulder of his defender, and he raced one-on-one with goalkeeper. This time he would make no mistake, and slotted home for the winner.
Overall, this will serve not only as another fitness booster, but a confidence booster too. A well-organised friendly that was perfect for City’s preparation at this stage, and they passed with flying colours. Perhaps the third kit is the lucky kit after all?