Painful end to play-off hopes

PUBLISHED: 09:25 10 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:21 14 September 2010

CHRIS WISE

Norwich City defender Adam Drury pulled no punches as he reflected on another away defeat - and a season of under-achievement at Carrow Road.

The long-serving left-back felt "something was not right" as the Canaries went down 2-0 at Preston on Saturday to lose even a mathematical chance of finishing in the play-off positions with four matches still to be played.

Norwich City defender Adam Drury pulled no punches as he reflected on another away defeat - and a season of under-achievement at Carrow Road.

The long-serving left-back felt “something was not right” as the Canaries went down 2-0 at Preston on Saturday to lose even a mathematical chance of finishing in the play-off positions with four matches still to be played.

And he admitted that the whole campaign had been a let down, with a team who started off as title favourites failing to produce the goods on a consistent basis to drift quietly out of contention.

Drury made it clear that a combination of personal pride and a desire to finish above neighbours Ipswich Town would drive the players on between now and the end of the season. But he will clearly he happy when the slate can be wiped clean - and preparations can get under way for another crack at the big time.

“This season has been a let-down really,” he said. “When you look back to the start of the season everyone's hopes were high and that was understandable given the players we had. Bearing in mind the squad we had in place we haven't done as well as we should - and that is down to everybody. It has been really disappointing and all we can do now is try and finish on a high note - and start afresh next season.

“It has been an up and down season for everyone - and it has been very disheartening at times. One week we seem to be doing okay, and the next we seem to go back to square one and it's a big knock to everyone's confidence.

“You need to be consistent as a team if you want to be successful - and for whatever reason that hasn't been the case this season.

“We need to put that right, hopefully over the next four games and certainly when we come back after our summer break.

“We have got pride to play for now and that will spur us on. Perhaps we can relax a bit now and play some decent football.

“Ipswich are our local rivals and we definitely want to finish above them. We are going to do our best to do that, and finish as high up the table as possible.”

The challenge of maintaining, or in an ideal world, extending a three point advantage over the Tractor Boys, will at least give City something to play for over the next three weeks - but Drury would have preferred a more exciting target.

Had the Canaries won at Deepdale they would at least have given Preston something to think about in their next game, but two own goals in 18 minutes from Jason Shackell and Gary Doherty ended those hopes - and the 28-year-old defender was bitterly disappointed to emerge empty-handed from the 'last chance saloon'.

He was attaching no blame to his fellow defenders after the game but clearly felt the players had collectively let their fans and manager down as they crashed to a 12th away defeat in 21 league outings this season.

“As a fellow defender all I can do is offer my sympathy to the lads who scored the own goals,” said Drury. “Shacks has tried to clear it over the bar and hasn't got enough on it and the ball has gone in.

“Doc has stuck his leg out while under pressure and the ball has taken a nasty deflection. It could have gone anywhere but unfortunately for us it has gone to the only place where Greeny couldn't reach it.

“Those sort of things happen occasionally when you are playing at the back and you just have to take them in your stride.”

He added: “I thought they were the better side and deserved to win. You have got to hold your hands up sometimes and admit that you didn't perform. That has been the case a lot of times away from home this season and it is very disappointing.

“We battled hard out there, I don't think anyone would deny that, but we never really created anything. Something is not right.

“In the second half they sat back and invited us on and nothing really happened. It's down to the whole team. If we are going to try and play football then we have all got to contribute. We are going to give it away at times but if we are all looking for the ball we will have a chance. But at the minute I think confidence is low and we are not playing well.”

Drury, probably City's best player on Saturday, reckons his own season has mirrored that of the team.

“It has been up and down really,” he said, “I have had a few injuries which haven't helped but since I have come back in and had a settled place in the side I think I have done okay.

“I have had a bit of a knee niggle which hasn't helped. I wouldn't say it has been hampering me but I'll be glad when it is out of the way. It should clear up during the summer break and then I'll be looking to get a good pre-season under my belt before starting afresh. I'll be hoping for a better season than this one, that's for sure.”

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