Canaries to fall foul of the yellow peril

Chris Lakey Paul Lambert will be keeping an anxious eye on the Colney treatment room this week as he ponders the repercussions of an innocuous challenge which earned Gary Doherty his fifth booking of the season and a one-match ban.

Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert will be keeping an anxious eye on the Colney treatment room this week as he ponders the repercussions of an innocuous challenge which earned Gary Doherty his fifth booking of the season and a one-match ban.

Jens Berthel Askou would be the obvious replacement, but he is currently nursing a foot injury which forced him to sit out City's seventh home league win in a row - and if he doesn't recover in time for the Boxing Day clash then the manager has a genuine selection headache.

Michael Spillane is still recovering from a hamstring problem and hasn't featured in 16 games since, which probably leaves either of the full-backs - Russell Martin and Adam Drury.

It's not ideal - no wonder Lambert has his eye on a centre half in the January transfer window.

Doherty's only crime on Saturday was a first-half challenge on former Ipswich man Jordan Rhodes which referee Chris Sarginson deemed worthy of inclusion in his notebook.

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But his disciplinary record is on a par with his scoring record of late - he's been booked in each of his last three games and scored in each of his last three games, his effort on Saturday taking his tally to four in eight days.

For 45 minutes on Saturday it looked like defensive duties would be the centre of his attention as Lee Clark's return to Carrow Road a year after his departure got off to an almost perfect start.

Almost perfect because the only thing it lacked was goals.

Had Rhodes' diving header not been matched by an instinctive save by goalkeeper Fraser Forster it might have been a different story.

But Huddersfield's ability to pass the ball around and make City chase the game wasn't matched by a sharpness in front of goal.

Forster wasn't unduly stretched, but Huddersfield were well ahead on points and when half-time arrived you rather felt that it was the City dressing room that would be in need of a new paint job.

Refreshing though it was to see a visiting team actually try and play football and try and win at Carrow Road, the fear was that City had met their match: a belief that clearly wasn't held by Lambert and his players.

Stephen Hughes replaced Tom Adeyemi for the second half and City immediately looked more dangerous: in the words of one player, they got into Huddersfield's faces.

Instead of allowing the hosts to dictate the play, City imposed their own authority.

The driving force was the excellent Darel Russell, a player whose fortunes have changed so dramatically that it's hard to believe that he was ever allowed to drift out of the first team picture at Norwich - whether he ever wanted away or not.

Russell must be the sort of player every manager loves: his work-rate is excellent, he reads the game, he stifles dangerous opponents and he pushes players forward.

He lives on the edge of his own area when necessary, and somehow manages to get into dangerous positions around the opponents' box.

The signal that City were back in the game didn't take long in arriving - when Wes Hoolahan slipped the ball across the area for Chris Martin on 52 minutes you could sense the Irishman had got the bit between his teeth.

That Martin was somehow able to put the ball the wrong side of the post proved to be the source of some post-match mockery as Grant Holt replicated the miss of the season for his young strike partner who was busy trying to explain it to the media.

Within five minutes of Martin's miss, City were ahead - with a little help from Huddersfield skipper Peter Clarke, for whom the second half was to become a nightmare.

Clarke played a ball from defence to Jim Goodwin on the halfway line; it left Goodwin with little room to move, and Simon Lappin nipped in to steal it.

Martin picked up the loose ball, nicked it a few yards to Hoolahan, and the midfielder was off and running.

Between him and the goal stood Clarke.

It was no contest. Hoolahan went to his left, Clarke was left for dead and the midfielder fired low into the bottom right corner. A terrific goal.

From then on in it became the Hoolahan show - although Clarke was to provide City with a helping hand.

Russell saw a shot deflected narrowly wide, while Holt was unlucky when he got the ball stuck under his feet.

Then Hoolahan struck again, the time with a long ball from way inside his own half that Clarke should have cut out - but didn't. It was perfect for Martin, who raced away, with Joe Skarz trailing behind and calmly slotted it into the bottom left.

Another cracking finish - and it more than made up for his earlier miss.

Huddersfield were just about dead and buried by now, and five minutes later City wrap edit up when Doherty put his put through the ball from 12 yards out, after Clarke (who else?) had failed to beat Holt in the air to Lappin's corner.

The ball wasn't cleared and Doherty struck, with Clarke (who else?) unable to block it on the line.

Martin saw another effort saved and put the ball into the net with a superb finish after an equally sublime pass from Hoolahan - only to hear a whistle go for offside.

Holt was denied by a quality block by Michael Collins as City finished on a high.

By that time Lambert was obliging the fans who chanted his name and demanded a wave.

Clark was less generous, ignoring the request for acknowledgement, but surely unable to miss the chant, “Are you Roeder in disguise?”

A year ago, under Roeder, players were talking about cancelling plans for a Christmas party because they didn't deserve one, such was their poor form.

Lambert says he hasn't heard of plans for one this year - so you suspect that the discipline in the squad works off field as well as it does on field.

Millwall on Boxing Day marks the halfway point of the season and, if City win and Charlton fail to beat Swindon at home, it leaves the Canaries just a point behind the second automatic promotion spot.