Rhodes to rescue for never-say-die Norwich
The expectation was for a feast of goals from two of the most potent attacks in the Championship, not least after their previous encounter this season, which Albion won with the best of seven.
Albion head coach Darren Moore would have been content with 1-0 this time if Dwight Gayle’s 15th goal of the season had been the winner. However, the fight-to-the-end character of this Norwich side secured a late point.
Substitute Jordan Rhodes provided it, arriving at the near post with perfect timing to wrong foot the home defence and turn home a Kenny McLean cross. Both men had come off the bench just a couple of minutes earlier.
Norwich slip out of the top two after four Championship matches without a win, which some will see as a wobble, it was a brave performance, after which you would assume manager Daniel Farke to be the happier of the two, although Moore insisted any disappointment should be set against a week of setbacks. “I can’t be too disappointed because what a performance it was from us,” he said. “We didn’t allow Norwich any momentum. We tried to get the second goal but it was a top performance against top opponents. The one person we could’ve done with that chance not falling to was Jordan. I have worked with him before and, like Dwight, he’s a top marksman.”
The setbacks were threefold, forcing Moore into changes. Harvey Barnes was recalled by parent club Leicester City, while Matt Phillips and James Morrison were injured. In addition, Jake Livermore was suspended.
Moore pitched 18-year-old Rakeem Harper into his midfield for his first start in the Championship and he delivered a composed performance.
The big plus for Albion was that leading scorer Gayle was over a hamstring injury and the on-loan Newcastle striker needed only 12 minutes to make his finishing quality tell, getting in front of Jemal Lewis at the near post to convert a cross by Mason Holgate, making his Baggies league debut at right-back following his arrival from Everton on loan.
Norwich had not suffered an away defeat since losing at Sheffield United in August, yet they could have gone further behind when Hal Robson-Kanu fired narrowly wide.
Albion began the second half as if keen to stretch their lead early but a second goal eluded them. Instead, the two Norwich substitutes combined to make the home fans’ frustration feel so much worse, McLean’s low cross seeming to cause hesitation in the home defence, enabling Rhodes to pounce.
Manager Farke readily took credit for the point-saving change.
“I’m really pleased for Jordan Rhodes,” he said. “It’s great that he and Kenny McLean were able to come on and fulfil my ideas.”
Rhodes show: Norwich City substitute Jordan Rhodes celebrates scoring a late equaliser