Alan Neilson: The second half was a real lesson

Norwich City Under-23s coach Alan Neilson said his side didn’t do enough to win their battles in the second half of Monday night’s 5-2 defeat against West Brom U23s.

“If you looked at us after ten minutes, we could have been at least 3-0 up,” he said. “We had plenty of chances but didn’t take them.

“The second half was a real lesson for the lads. We told them at the start of the season ‘you’ve got to win your battles,’ and if you win more battles than the opposition you’re more likely to win games, especially with the ability we’ve got in the team.

“I thought the front three were lively and created a lot of chances but it was just that we weren’t quite good enough. The defence had an off day during the second half.”

City took the lead through Jonathan Rowe in the 34th minute, but a Nelson Khumbeni own goal got West Brom back into the game moments later.

“We knew they were going to be big and strong and play out from the back, so we were pressing them and winning the ball high up and creating chances,” Neilson said.

“In the second half, they didn’t try to play out from the back - they went a little bit longer and we didn’t win the first ball, the second or third - they won all the battles in the second half.

“If you haven’t got the ball and you don’t win the battle, then you’re going to lose football matches. I think the goals in the second half… we just didn’t defend them well enough.”

After going into half-time at 1-1, the away side put four past City in the second half to climb to third in the Premier League 2 Division Two.

“They punished us because we weren’t strong enough,” Neilson added. “They had some big, physical players but you’re going to get that in all levels of football, whether it’s the Premier League or whatever league you’re playing in.

“They can be six foot five but if you go into a 50/50 and you’ve got a lot of heart, you can come out winning the ball. In the second half, we didn’t do that well enough.

“When the coaching staff walked into the dressing room, the players were having a go at each other saying it wasn’t good enough, so that’s good because we try to have standards on and off the pitch.

“We’ve got to be more solid. The man of the match, Saxon Earley, deserved it. He battled and scrapped and you need to have part of that in your team.

“They’ve got four days now, because luckily we’ve got a game on Friday night against Fulham, who are top of the league, so we’ve got to adapt to it and be better than the second half performance tonight.”

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