'We need to pull our weight' - City skipper relieved to end his goal drought
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Victory at Cardiff was even sweeter for Norwich City skipper Grant Hanley, as he ended his personal goal drought and the Championship leaders' dry spell from corners.
The Scot's close-range header in the third minute, after Mario Vrancic had flicked on an Emi Buendia corner, was his first goal since heading in a Vrancic free-kick during an FA Cup fourth round win at Burnley last season - very nearly a year ago.
His fourth goal in a Canaries shirt was also his first league goal since a 4-3 home defeat to West Brom in the Championship back in August 2018, having gone close with a succession of headed chances throughout the current campaign.
“I got on the end of it because it’s happened a few times this season where someone’s got a flick on at the front post and it's sort of dropped behind the back post," said Hanley, after Saturday's 2-1 success.
“It was Mario that flicked it on so once I saw that I thought I’d try to sneak in there, luckily enough it fell to me - and I think I needed one of them.
"I needed a tap in because I feel like I’ve got my head on a few and got nowhere near it, so I was thankful for a tap in!"
It also finished City's long wait for a headed goal from a corner, since Kenny McLean had powered in a Buendia corner during the memorable 3-2 home victory over Manchester City in the Premier League, in September 2019.
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Hanley continued: “It’s something that we need to improve on and it’s something that the boss is always on at us about, that we all need to chip in, especially centre-halves.
“So it’s something that we’re desperate to do and something that we need to pull our weight on a bit more – but it’s nice to get one.
“It’s one we need to work on as a team but us as centre-halves we need to start getting some headers on target at least.”
Victory in South Wales, combined with Bournemouth losing 1-0 at home to Luton, pushed Norwich eight points clear of third place as they kicked off the second half of the season.
Hanley admitted the Bluebirds turned the game into a scrap after the break though, after Todd Cantwell had fired the visitors into a 2-0 lead before half-time, turning in after a Jordan Hugill shot had been well saved.
“It was tough. A bit frustrating second half because I felt like we’d played really well in the first half, exactly how we want to play really," said the City skipper.
“We pressed them high and played in their half for a lot of the game, the counter-pressing was good, the build-up from the back was good, so it was really positive.
“A little bit frustrating in the second half, that we didn’t really get going, they have a man sent off so you’re thinking we’ve got an extra man so surely we can step it up a level and go on to kill the game.
“But sometimes that’s just the way it is. We showed a lot of character, the lads dug in. It’s not easy coming to Cardiff and getting three points so I think we’ve got to take pride in that, sometimes you have to take pride in the ugly and gritty ones.
“It’s definitely a massive three points for us.”
Fit-again Wales striker Kieffer Moore - an imposing striker at 6ft 5ins tall - was introduced by the hosts in the 58th minute after a five-game absence with a hamstring injury.
Cardiff's eight-goal top scorer looked to have helped swing momentum, with Joe Ralls sweeping home in the 65th minute after Kenny McLean couldn't stop Leandro Bacuna getting into the box - but skipper Marlon Pack picked up a second yellow card for a tackle on Oliver Skipp within five minutes and the Canaries were able to see out the win.
“He’s a handful, he’s good at what he does and he probably changed the game for them," Hanley added, of former Ipswich and Barnsley forward Moore.
“It’s all good being organised, we’re playing away from home at the end of the day, so you’re going to withstand a bit of pressure at times.
“I felt like we did that well, I thought Dan (Barden) was brilliant in goal again, he looked calm, confident and did what he needed to do.
“A bit frustrating in that second half to not pick up more goals but we got the three points.”