Askou turns from villain to hero

David Cuffley Defender Jens Berthel Askou took just 10 minutes to put a smile back on the face of new boss Paul Lambert - after the slip that briefly threatened to spoil the Norwich City manager's first game in charge.

David Cuffley

Defender Jens Berthel Askou took just 10 minutes to put a smile back on the face of new boss Paul Lambert - after the slip that briefly threatened to spoil the Norwich City manager's first game in charge.

The Danish centre-half's momentary misjudgment gave Wycombe Wanderers faint hope of a route back into Saturday's League One encounter at Carrow Road after they had been all but swept away by three goals from the Canaries in the space of 20 minutes in the first half.

Six minutes before the break, Askou missed his header when he was caught out by a steep bounce that allowed Jon-Paul Pittman to pull a goal back for Wycombe.

And the alarm bells rang for City when Matt Harrold scored the visitors' second less than 30 seconds after the break.

But three minutes later, Askou popped up with a vital goal, meeting Simon Lappin's free-kick with a powerful header from almost the same spot where he had erred in the first half. It was his second goal on successive Saturdays, and 4-2 became 5-2 when captain for the day Grant Holt wrapped up City's victory with his second goal of the game with 20 minutes left.

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The 27-year-old Askou admitted his new boss was unhappy at half-time with the first Wycombe goal.

He said: “He was really fired up in the dressing room, especially in the break after conceding a stupid goal. But even though they scored again in the second half, I think we found some aggressiveness after that and we were able to turn the game again to our advantage.”

Askou's defensive mishap was partly a case of one shoe off and one shoe on.

He explained: “I lost a boot at the corner kick just before that. I was trying to put my boot on and I was only running with one shoe. And I made a bad decision and in a split second, you're one step behind. It was terrible defending but we managed to get back in the game and it didn't cost anything - but of course we have to eliminate these mistakes.

“When you make mistakes you want to get back in the game. It was the perfect time to score. They had just scored, so of course it was very satisfying.”

Askou's aerial strength had already brought him goals against Airdie in a pre-season game and at Exeter nine days ago. And as he looked forward to tonight's Carling Cup second round tie at home to Sunderland (7.45pm), he said he hoped to keep the goalscoring run going.

He said: “I have been lucky to go in the right areas. It was fantastic delivery from Lappin today. I just had to put my head on it and hit the goal. The speed was already on the ball.

“When I go forward for set plays I want to be a threat as much as anybody else. I don't know if it's a coincidence but somehow I've managed to score some goals from the beginning. You never know - I may not score in the next 50 games but I hope I can keep on scoring now and then.

“You have to be able to put pressure on in these situations and be dangerous because we'll get a lot of corners and a lot of free-kicks around the box.”

Askou was partnered by Michael Spillane in the centre of defence after skipper Gary Doherty was dropped - and he praised Spillane's contribution.

He said: “Michael has played the position before and is a very good player. He played really well today. That's not a problem. It's not like I have been playing 20 games with any of the other guys anyway. There were some fantastic performances today from the young guys. That was impressive.

“Our fans have been suffering at the beginning of the season so that was a perfect response. The manager brought in some new guys who haven't been playing much and you saw the response today from everybody. They were fighting for every ball.”

Sunderland, he knows, will be a different proposition tonight.

“I don't have to know anything specific about the players because it's a quality team, it's a Premier League team, so it's going to be a tough test,” said Askou. “I hope they'll play some football, come forward a bit and give us more space to play, so it will probably be a different game to the last couple of games we've played.”

Lambert said Askou's goal came at a crucial time.

He said: “It was vital but all credit to Jens. He probably made the mistake for the first goal but it was a terrific ball from Simon Lappin and he got his head on to it, so I think the fourth goal was vital.”