Dean Smith rants at Bamford, Ayling decisions for Leeds, but admits gloomy Norwich trait creeping in

Dean Smith, Jesse Marsch Leeds v Norwich March 2022

Norwich head coach Dean Smith hit out at decisions involving Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling after his side’s dramatic defeat to Leeds United.

The Canaries came into the game knowing a win would be crucial in their fading hopes of Premier League survival. Indeed, the two sides had the two worst goal difference records ahead of the contest.

Leeds took the lead through Rodrigo in the first half and should have been out of sight. In fact, they had a flurry of chances in either half as they dominated.

However, those opportunities came and went without the scoreline changing. As a result, Norwich hit back in the first minute of second-half stoppage time.

But, that was not the end of the drama as Joe Gelhardt incredibly made it 2-1 moments after coming on.

Still, the Norwich coaching staff were furious at Leeds’ opening goal. Bamford chased a ball over the top, from which he appeared offside. And while the striker did not touch the ball, Ozan Kabak made sure to head the ball away. Rodrigo then nipped in and fired the hosts in front.

Smith also questioned a decision to overturn a penalty for Norwich before they made it 1-1. Luke Ayling made contact with Milot Rashica in the box, but VAR chief Mike Dean sent referee Stuart Attwell to the pitchside monitor and the official changed his mind.

Smith told BBC Sport in his assessment: “Frustrated, disappointed. They were much the better team in the first half and played with more energy.

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“I have to question the goal as Patrick Bamford is offside. The reason he heads it is because of Patrick Bamford but they got the second ball.

“I asked my players for bravery and we didn’t get that in the first half. We got a reaction in the second half. We won a penalty and it got turned over. I’ll ask the question why later.

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“If Luke Ayling’s foot is not there, Milot Rashica can get a shot away. Is there enough to turn it over? I don’t know because it’s subjective and they’re the only people who know what that word means at the minute.

“In the last 20-25 minutes we took the game to Leeds. Teemu Pukki had cramp and was still running the ball into the corners. Our final third just wasn’t good enough. We wanted to try and go on to win it. Their goal comes from our free-kick. They end up getting the winner.”

Dean Smith admits Norwich concerns

Kenny McLean goal, Leeds v Norwich March 2022

Despite the frustration over the two decisions, Smith admitted that his side struggled to make their own impact.

Indeed, he remarked that there might be “apprehension” among his players as they look destined for relegation.

“We don’t have a game for three weeks so it will be a sore one for a while but we have to bounce back,” Smith said.

“We are where we are for a reason, we have to regroup and get ready for what’s to come.

“It took us until half time to get going and it’s been the same again today. Maybe the enormity of the games, is there apprehension from the players? I don’t know.

“We just haven’t started well. To see their performance in the second half it’s frustrating not to see that throughout the whole game.”

Norwich return to action against Brighton at the start of April.