Korey hails Norwich City's lionhearts

PUBLISHED: 00:10 21 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:31 10 September 2010

David Cuffley

Midfielder Korey Smith had only one regret after playing his full part in earning Norwich City a point from a battle royal with League One leaders Charlton - that he wasn't on the pitch to celebrate their injury-time equaliser.

Midfielder Korey Smith had only one regret after playing his full part in earning Norwich City a point from a battle royal with League One leaders Charlton - that he wasn't on the pitch to celebrate their injury-time equaliser.

The Canaries secured a well-earned 2-2 draw at Carrow Road when Grant Holt struck two minutes into stoppage time with his sixth goal of the season.

But 18-year-old Smith, who twice came close to bringing City level in a pulsating second half, had been replaced by Cody McDonald one minute from time.

He said: “When that goal went in, I was off the pitch at the time as I'd come off in the last couple of minutes.

“I did jump off the bench when they all went down to the Snakepit corner and I did go to sprint down there, but I thought no, better not, and I celebrated with the lads on the bench.”

Smith, who has become an integral part of City's midfield, starting all five league games since Paul Lambert's arrival as manager, praised the fighting spirit shown after they went two goals down inside 40 minutes.

“It was a great match. We were unfortunate to go 2-0 down. I didn't think we were playing badly. I thought we were doing well,” said Smith.

“But we kept at them. They were hardly in our half at all in the second half and we just had to keep going.

“You can't just give up and cave in. We stuck together and worked really hard and the crowd got behind us and we got back in it.

“Charlton were unbeaten and came here with a lot of confidence but we matched them and most of the time we were on top, had a lot of chances but unfortunately didn't get the win.”

Wes Hoolahan's smartly-taken goal from Holt's quick throw-in gave City a lifeline before half-time.

“It was quality from Holty and quality from Wes, coming back in the team. It was quick thinking and Wes finished it off,” said Smith, who put one long-range effort just over the bar and was denied by a brilliant save by Charlton goalkeeper Rob Elliot in the second half.

“I got in the box quite a lot today. My fitness is getting better and better because I wasn't used to playing regularly in the first team but now I'm starting to get fitter, I can get into the box and I'm able to get back instead of just holding.

“I played a defensive midfield role in the last match but I like getting in the box. I had a shot from the edge of the area that nearly went in and I got in the box after Holty and the 'keeper made a great save but if I could get some goals that would be excellent.”

Lambert praised Smith's contribution but admitted he was placing a big workload on an 18-year-old new to senior football.

“Korey was brilliant,” said Lambert. “I'm never quite sure how far to go with praise for young kids - next thing you'll see him driving a Mercedes or having his socks over his knees, or he'll have about four earrings in and a Walt Disney hat. But he's done really, really brilliantly and I thought today this was a young kid stepping up to the plate.

“But I'm asking an awful lot of him, a real awful lot. If you had more experienced lads in, he might not have got as many games but the thing is, since I've been here, he's been terrific.”

As Smith acknowledged: “He doesn't think about my age, he just puts me in. He knows I work hard and I always give 100 per cent.”

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