12 March 2023

Huge positive for us – Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray delighted with Norwich win

12 March 2023

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray was delighted to see his young side come through a “big test” against Norwich with flying colours after claiming a hard-fought 1-0 win at Carrow Road.

An early goal from teenager Abdoullah Ba proved enough for the Black Cats to pick up all three points and get their Championship campaign back on track after away defeats at Coventry and Rotherham and a 5-1 home drubbing at the hands of Stoke.

“It’s a huge positive for us to come away with three points,” said Mowbray.

“Norwich was a big test for our young side, especially with the injuries we have, and I was pleased with the way they performed.

“We were up against a good footballing side, who we knew wouldn’t be playing long balls.

“So we pressed them very high and when we got the ball we got behind them and created some good chances.

“In the second half we got a bit deeper, but we defended well to keep them out. I was pleased with the compactness of the team today, everyone did a good job. I told our wingers they would have to do a lot of running today and they were excellent tracking back as well.”

Victory lifts Sunderland up to 10th and they are now just three points behind seventh-placed Norwich and five adrift of Millwall, who occupy the final play-off spot.

Mowbray added: “It’s great to see such a happy dressing room and I know the narrative will be that we have bounced back after a run of defeats.

“But we could easily have won those two away games while playing a Stoke side who weren’t too worried about having the ball and were happy to take advantage of our mistakes probably didn’t suit us.

“Playing Norwich probably did but I still think they are a good side who will finish in the top six. We are on a journey, safe now I would have thought with 52 points, and let’s see where it takes us.”

The game was settled by a well-taken 15th-minute goal from 19-year-old Frenchman Ba which followed a couple of precise passes from Patrick Roberts and Joe Gelhardt.

Norwich had carved out a couple of decent opportunities themselves before going behind, with both Max Aarons and Marcelino Nunez being denied by smart saves from Anthony Patterson, and went on to dominate for long spells after it.

But they could find no way through a well-organised Sunderland backline as the hosts suffered a painful home defeat after a run of four wins and a draw in their previous five matches had boosted their play-off push.

Norwich head coach David Wagner had no complaints about the result.

“I have to say it was a deserved defeat,” he said. “In the first half we were well short of the level required. Our passing and movement were not good enough, we were not sharp enough and we deserved to go in at half-time 1-0 down.

“It was better in the second half, and I have no complaints about the effort of the players, but there still wasn’t enough energy and intensity in our play and we didn’t create enough clear chances.

“It was a disappointing result, a disappointing performance, but it’s important not to get too carried away with the negatives, just like you don’t get too carried away with the positives.

“It’s about being honest, having a good chat about what we did wrong, and then making sure we do a lot better when we play again in three days (at his former club Huddersfield).”

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