After Norwich City's play-off semi-final first leg stalemate against Leeds United, Connor Southwell delivers six things you might have missed from Carrow Road. 

1 - All to play for 

It was cagey. It ebbed and flowed. It was intense. It was even.

The objective of both sides as the game grew older was to ensure that they didn’t lose it. That is perhaps the best summary of a contest that failed to spark into life. The play-offs always bring drama, on this occasion – that awaits further down the line.

In truth, the reflections on it will be mixed. Could City have pushed harder? Undoubtedly. Should they have? Maybe.

But that would have left spaces for Leeds mouthwatering array of attacking talent to exploit. At this stage of the tie, neither David Wagner nor Daniel Farke were willing to wave caution to the wind. That was reflected in the limited amount of action both goalkeepers were put through.

It is only half-time. But in reality, Norwich have teed up a straight shootout for a spot at Wembley. Given their inferiority in terms of individual talent, that may not be a bad way to try and progress.

As the minutes ticked away and the nervousness exited the stadium, both teams shook hands and accepted a draw as neither the worst or the best outcome available. Only history will show whether this transpires to be a missed opportunity for the Canaries.

Hope springs eternal optimism. Norwich City are still within a shout. Wagner is prepared to go the distance if necessary.

2 - Symmetry? 

So much has been made of the fact that David Wagner has navigated the play-offs before with Huddersfield in 2017 – if supporters require any positive omens ahead of the second leg, then he opened that campaign with a goalless draw.

Like Norwich, that was the home leg. Like Norwich, Terriers supporters left the ground feeling frustrated.

But Huddersfield took Sheffield Wednesday back to Hillsborough, conceded first when Steven Fletcher met Barry Bannan’s deflected cross to give the Owls the lead. Despite the vociferous atmosphere, Wagner’s side responded when Tom Lees turned into his own net after Nakhi Wells met Colin Quaner’s cross.

There are natural symmetries between the two occasions—Hillsborough is a historic old ground capable of producing hostile atmospheres, and so too is Elland Road. Wednesday were expected to win in front of their home support, and so too will Leeds United.

That game ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time. Huddersfield won a penalty shootout 4-3, leading all the way through.

If history is any indication, and if we are to consider the past as a blueprint for the future, then we can expect a thrilling and dramatic match at Elland Road for the Canaries.

Wagner and his team will be happy to fly under the radar. They will try to pile all the pressure onto Daniel Farke’s young but talented side. Every minute survived at Elland Road is a moment more in the Canaries' favour.  

City’s boss will be hoping lightning can strike twice as he fights for a spot in the Premier League.

3 - Older heads 

Norwich’s starting XI had an average age of 27.2 years compared to Leeds United’s 24.4 on Sunday – that experience is something that David Wagner will be hoping to lean on in the second leg.

For the opening 30 minutes, when Norwich raced out of the traps and matched the energy and intensity set by a raucous Carrow Road crowd, it looked like that was going to be a factor that came into play.

Farke’s youngsters looked nervous and edgy by the sense of occasion. Norwich were coping with it more.

That was a point that Leeds’ manager made pre and post-game – City will need to squeeze every ounce of it out at Elland Road. It will be an occasion about surviving, withstanding adversity and even leaning into the dark arts.

Norwich will be hoping that Ashley Barnes can make it. They will be hoping that Ben Gibson and Shane Duffy can create a solid base for the talented individuals further up the field to shine.

Wagner identified mentality as one of the major areas that required improvement in his five-point plan last summer. This is the crunch period when that theory will be tested beyond doubt.

With the games so tight in the play-offs, every marginal gain is welcome. Norwich will be hoping that is the case on Thursday.

The Pink Un: Carrow Road was in full voice ahead of the first leg against Leeds.Carrow Road was in full voice ahead of the first leg against Leeds. (Image: Andy Sumner/Focus Images Ltd)

4 - A sea of yellow and green

Hours before the first whistle sounded at Carrow Road, a sea of yellow and green invaded NR1, heeding the club’s call to ‘be early and wear yellow’.

Special steps were taken to boost the pre-match atmosphere, including performances from local band Sons of Mark and Amber T, who produced that iconic version of Jonny Rowe’s now famous chant, plus an invitation to greet the coach as it pulled in to the ground.

Thousands answered the call. The air was filled with yellow and green flare, the sounds of chants bounced around Koblenz Avenue and beyond.

It was an atmosphere befitting the occasion and bled into the stadium bowl as the fans played their part in making it hostile and intense in City’s favour. Norwich’s opening 30-minute display responded to the energy created by the crowd, even if it faded on all fronts thereafter.

All season, Norwich has felt like a host of disconnected entities, like all parties pulling a rope in different directions. Yet somehow, it has not snapped beyond repair, even if it has split in places.

But those grievances have been parked. It does now feel like a united front, documented by the show of togetherness that met the final whistle.

When Carrow Road is a cauldron of noise, harboured in the right way then there are few better places in English football. This was a day that reminded us all of the power crowds have and the role they can play.

The Pink Un: All smiles - David Wagner was happy with the result of the first leg at Carrow Road,All smiles - David Wagner was happy with the result of the first leg at Carrow Road, (Image: Andy Sumner/Focus Images Ltd)

5 - Time travel

2011 is the last, and only, time that both semi-final first legs have ended goalless – sadly, that omen makes for less positive reading for City.

At that time, Norwich were watching on after Paul Lambert’s side had achieved back-to-back promotions and were watching them unfold in a slightly intoxicated and celebratory state.

Third-placed Swansea travelled to Nottingham Forest and drew 0-0. Reading were at home to fourth-placed Cardiff – that was also goalless.  

In the second leg, Brendan Rodgers’ Swans comfortably dispatched Forest 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium. Reading produced somewhat of a shock to win 3-0 away at Cardiff to earn a spot at Wembley.

A 4-2 victory sent Swansea to the Premier League. They also finished third. They, like Leeds, had just missed out on automatic promotion, falling four points clear.

The analysis of West Brom versus Southampton will likely follow a similar trend to how Norwich’s draw with Leeds has been dissected – that it is advantageous to the higher-placed sides, that the visitors have it all to do, and that sense of missed opportunity by failing to win their home legs.

But this is play-off football. Forget what you think you know. It is about who can hold their nerve and ride out the moment.

Norwich will be written off, they always are – but they are just 90 minutes and one goal from Wembley.

The Pink Un: Norwich City will need to find success away at Elland Road.Norwich City will need to find success away at Elland Road. (Image: Andy Sumner/Focus Images Ltd)

6 - A daunting task

Elland Road is steeped in history, famous for its atmosphere and ability to win or lose games for Leeds United over the years.

Under the lights on Thursday, it will be vociferous, roaring and expectant that Leeds can finish the job and take the next step on their mission to return to the Premier League.

Throughout this year, it has been a fortress for Daniel Farke’s men. Only Ipswich (53) have taken more points at home in the Championship than Leeds – who were unbeaten until a shock 1-0 loss to Blackburn Rovers in April.

That was followed by a final day loss to Southampton, which was somewhat unique given Farke’s gun-ho approach to try and pile pressure on Ipswich on the final day.

Over the regular season, Leeds have scored 45 goals and conceded just 16 on their home patch. Contrast that with Norwich’s away record, the sixth worst in the Championship, and it paints a daunting picture.

Wagner is adamant that those statistics go out of the window now the terrain of the play-off wilderness has been entered.

It will be tough, but not insurmountable. Norwich will need luck, to overcome adversity and frustrate a crowd unwilling to accept anything other than a home win.

This will be a true test of character. As an old song proclaims: ‘Never mind the danger’.