Coming into this match, Newcastle had conceded 3 goals only twice all season, once to Manchester City and once to Chelsea. Their defense up the middle has been the key to their success, so when Steven Taylor went down for the season last week and it was announced that Cheik Tiote and Fabricio Coloccini would be out for this match as well, it was a given that goals would be conceded at Norwich City. They ended up letting in 4, and 3 of them were from free headers in the box. In short, though the defensive corps was absolutely depleted, it was an unacceptable performance.
The match took a while to open up - the first goal didn't come until the 38th minute and the possession at halftime was an even 50/50, though I would have guessed that the Canaries owned the advantage, to be honest. Things really got hairy around the 59th minute, when Grant Holt was allowed two free headers by Dan Gosling, and the second was not to be denied. Just a few minutes later, Gosling gave the ball away in a key position, playing a nice through ball actually, and the end result was a 3-1 scoreline. It was just three minutes later when Gosling did a real life rage quit and went sliding in for a straight red card. Newcastle looked to be out of it, down 2 and with 10 men, but Shola Ameobi played a nice ball to Demba Ba, who finished for his second goal of the game. They continued to try to make a game out of it, playing their best football of the game in the ensuing 10 minutes, but eventually they were overwhelmed by a lack of men and a lack of man marking, and Norwich took away 3 points with a 4-2 victory.
It's disappointing to lose, and to be sure there were likely some Canary supporters out there thanking the schedule gods for giving them Newcastle at this point in time, but this was all the more disappointing for me because the defensive effort was so poor. Any team in the Premiership (or the Championship, for that matter) will have a chance against a team that can't or won't defend set pieces in their own end.