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David Wagner slams ‘poor’ Norwich performance in FA Cup draw with Bristol Rovers

SoccerNews in FA Cup 6 Jan 2024


Norwich head coach David Wagner pulled no punches after his Championship side were held to a 1-1 draw by League One Bristol Rovers in the third round of the FA Cup.

There were calls for Wagner to go from some quarters at the final whistle at Carrow Road while there was also criticism of the quality of football being produced by his team during the game.

Grant Ward cancelled out Ashley Barnes’ opener for the Canaries as Rovers claimed a deserved replay.

“It was a poor performance, well below par,” said Wagner. “We have high expectations of the players here and were certainly expecting a much better performance than that.

“We picked a team fresh enough to go out and do what was required and at the end of the day they had to play better.”

As for the criticism heading in his direction, Wagner added: “On a personal level it is not nice to hear things like that but it should not affect what is happening out on the pitch – how we play, how we pass the ball.

“Let’s not look for excuses. We have to do better, it is as simple as that, and the good thing about football is this was only one game – there is always another one coming up when you can be a lot better.”

Wagner made nine changes to the side held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on New Year’s Day and revealed one was forced on them with on-loan striker Hwang Ui-jo out injured.

“We decided to give some of the lads a break after a busy period of games but Hwang has picked up a hamstring injury and will be out for six weeks.”

Both goals came in a five-minute spell early in the first half, with Norwich opening the scoring and Rovers swiftly getting back on level terms.

The Canaries edged in front after 12 minutes when Onel Hernandez out-muscled Tristan Crama on the right before delivering a cross into the six-yard box that was comfortably side-footed home by Barnes.

Rovers responded in a positive fashion and equalised when a poor clearance from Kellen Fisher fell at the feet of Ward, who curled the ball into the top corner from around 10 yards.

Luke Thomas hit the upright just before half-time as the League One side continued to give a good account of themselves while substitute Adam Idah twice went close for the home side after the break but both sides had to settle for a replay at The Memorial Ground later this month.

Rovers boss Matt Taylor was full of praise for his team afterwards.

He said: “I’m so pleased with the performance, so pleased with what the team and what the club stood for in terms of the effort on the pitch and the effort from the fans.

“We did have a threat about us, especially in that first half. Our keeper doesn’t feel he has been over-worked.

“I think we defended our box pretty well, set-pieces included, so a step in the right direction. We are still in the draw. We don’t feel it’s a missed opportunity. The opportunity will now come in 10 days’ time.

“I can’t complain about the performance. We’ve limited them to half-chances. Our keeper has not really had too many saves to make. So we defended our box and defensive third really well.

“You always want more from an attacking sense but we have to respect where the game was today, at Norwich.

“I thought it was a good standard of football – really good. Two good teams going at it. We had a threat about us.

“Second half, we had to withstand a little bit of field position and pressure that didn’t materialise to chances around our goal.

“And then you’re thinking can we go and pinch it at the end for a memorable cup victory. But we’ll take taking them back to our home patch.”


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