Carrow Road erupts as Oli secures last-gasp win

PUBLISHED: 09:57 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 10 September 2010

Michael Bailey

SLIDESHOW: Super sub Oli Johnson was left struggling for words after his late brace did the trick for league leaders Norwich City against Southend last night. The Canaries' disjointed performance at Carrow Road looked like it would prove costly once Scott Vernon fired the cash-strapped visitors ahead just before the interval.

Super sub Oli Johnson was left struggling for words after his late brace did the trick for league leaders Norwich City against Southend last night.

The Canaries' disjointed performance at Carrow Road looked like it would prove costly once Scott Vernon fired the cash-strapped visitors ahead just before the interval.

But having been introduced as a 68th minute replacement for Simon Lappin, the 22-year-old striker followed up a Grant Holt effort to level matters from close range 10 minutes later, before his sweet header from Anthony McNamee's corner - in the last seconds of the match - earned the Canaries another comeback victory and the perfect tonic to Saturday's home defeat to Southampton.

Johnson said: "It's hard to put into words, the feeling of coming on and helping turn it around for the team. It was a team effort; it is a bit of a cliché but nobody in the side gave up. They all drove on to the end and that is what we've done in all those games this season.

"If you look at Walsall, Brighton, we never gave in, we are getting our just rewards and we've got another massive three points.

"We didn't play well, we know we can play better than that, but that's not to say if I hadn't have come on we would not have won, because the boys never gave in."

Johnson celebrated his match winner by sprinting to the halfway line before he was mobbed by his team-mates, and Johnson added: "If I'm honest I didn't really know what to do. I thought I could carry on running but I'm going to run out of pitch.

"I don't score enough headers so it's even more pleasing to score with my head. It's something I need to work on really, and with my height I should be doing better. But just to score a goal is fantastic, whether it's with your head, your foot or whatever."

Johnson has one start to his name so far this season but feels he is ready for another should the manager give him the call.

"I feel I am ready; I think fitness-wise I might be a little bit short, but I do feel definitely I'm ready - but that's the manager's decision," said Johnson. "There are two top class strikers in front of me, in Grant Holt and Chrissy Martin, and it speaks for itself the amount of goals they've scored.

"So you've got to recognise the fact they are in front of me for a reason at the moment, but I'm going to keep putting them under pressure and doing my best to force my way in.

"If I keep scoring goals and making an impact it's going to be hard for the manager to ignore my claims to get a start, but I'm willing to be patient and I knew that when I came here because there are some quality players at the club."

The striker has three goals in eight appearances for City - a meteoric rise given Johnson was turning out for local league side Nostell Miners Welfare just two years ago.

"Thinking back to two years ago, where I was playing and what's happened in the past 18 months, it's hard to take in and sometimes you have to pinch yourself," said Johnson.

"Signing for Stockport was huge and coming to a club like Norwich, with the history and the fans and everything, I feel privileged to be here really.

"It's hard to actually believe there are 25,000 fans when in the past I've played in front of 30 fans. It is really hard to take in and it's an amazing feeling.

"I get sort of shy sometimes when I hear the fans chanting my name.

"Everyone did their bit tonight - Anthony McNamee was different class with the crosses he put in, there are other players as well. But it's nice to be recognised as well by the fans and to have made a good impression."

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