Better late than never for Norwich City

Michael Bailey If Norwich City fans feel like they have been put through the League One wringer by their side this season, then they would be right. Late goals, such as substitute Chris Martin's 89th-minute winner over title rivals Leeds United at Carrow Road on Saturday, have virtually been the norm for Paul Lambert's side as they continue their march towards the League One crown.

Michael Bailey

If Norwich City fans feel like they have been put through the League One wringer by their side this season, then they would be right.

Late goals, such as substitute Chris Martin's 89th-minute winner over title rivals Leeds United at Carrow Road on Saturday, have virtually been the norm for Paul Lambert's side as they continue their march towards the League One crown.

Martin's 21st goal of the campaign was number 36 scored by City in the last 15 minutes of a game in all competitions.


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In fact, English football's leading scorers have hit 31 of their 78 league goals in the final quarter of an hour of matches - 17 worth a startling 21 points.

Hypothetically, you could argue the absence of those goals would have left the Canaries outside the play-off places.

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City have also avoided being on the receiving end. Only Jermaine Beckford's injury time winner at Leeds in October and Gordon Greer's equaliser at Swindon 11 days ago have left the Norwich faithful with last gasp disappointment to digest.

However, while picking up so many points late on in games is a common characteristic of successful sides, Norwich's exploits are still something special.

Of the three other division leaders this season, Norwich's points tally for the last 15 minutes of games eclipses them all.

League Two leaders Rochdale come closest, seven goals scored from the 75th minute onwards earning the Spotland club an extra nine points in their pursuit of League Two promotion.

While Championship leaders Newcastle United look set for an immediate return to the Premier League - aided by four late goals worth five more points.

But neither side is close to the Canaries' figure.

Even fans of the side widely regarded as the kings of late goals - Premier League leaders Manchester United - have had it less nerve-wracking, the Red Devils earning extra points on just two occasions including their dramatic derby win over Manchester City.

As for past Canaries successes, the Division One-winning class of 2003-04 rarely left is as late - although comebacks against Derby, Rotherham and Reading continue to live in the memory.

The club's halcyon season of 1992-93 bears most resemblance, Mark Robins notching five goals in the last 15 minutes of games, such as strikes at Arsenal and Oldham; David Phillips joined in.

As for Martin, his crucial goal at the weekend was his seventh league goal after the 75-minute mark, while the 21-year-old from Beccles also scored three times at non-league Paulton Rovers in this season's FA Cup, in the last quarter of an hour.

Theoretically, of course, every goal is worth the same - it does not matter when it is scored.

But with the Canaries, at most, five wins from marking their seemingly inevitable return to the Championship with some silverware, it is clear they have mastered the art of giving their opposition a lot less time to hit them back.

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