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Alan Neilsen: There wasn't a bad tackle in the game but once you get a yellow card you have to be careful

19 February 2021

Development phase coach Alan Neilsen felt there were lessons to be learned from the under-23s as they fell to a 2-0 home defeat against Leeds United.

Norwich matched league leaders Leeds for the first half and looked to be getting on top of the game at the start of the second. However, a lapse in concentration then cost them the opening goal before two red cards hampered their chances of getting back into the game.

“I thought we started the second half really, really well,” said Alan. “We moved it and we had a few chances, but then we had that little bit of sloppiness with not tracking the runner.

“It was two versus two in the wide area and one of our players just switched off a little bit and they got the run into the box and cut it back and their lad finished it well. That is how the game goes though, it is those split-second decisions and that time we let him run off us and the cut back was there, and they scored the goal.”

At 1-0, with the sides level at 11 apiece, Norwich continued to look threatening with Josh Martin and Matt Dennis going close to an equaliser. However, Reece McAlear and Melvin Setti both received their marching orders for two yellow cards on 61 and 75 minutes respectively. And, although Leeds also had a man sent-off, this ultimately cost Norwich in what was generally a very clean and competitive match.

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“There wasn’t really a bad tackle in the game,” said Alan. “It was more of a football game, where we had spells on the ball, and they had spells on the ball.

“Once you get a yellow card though you have got to be careful. Reece (McAlear) says he hasn’t touched him for the second one that he got and Melvin (Sitti), his first one is a silly yellow card for kicking the ball up in the air and then he has gone in for a tackle and he hasn’t won the ball. We actually thought at one point we were going to have to go down to eight men because Bali (Mumba) had cramp in his hamstrings but fair play to him he kept going and got through the last 20 minutes.”

Norwich also conceded two penalties, the second of which was scored in stoppage time. And, while this didn’t have a massive impact on the overall result, Alan says it is another lesson the players have to learn from.

“We talked about being patient and not getting drawn in because these days if you dive in and you hit a player in the box they are going to go down and it is a penalty,” said Alan. “I don’t think we can really argue about either of the decisions. It is lesson to be learned because at the minute we are giving too many penalties away.”


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