City's Nelson looks on bright side

David Cuffley Michael Nelson was denied a second successive weekend as Norwich City's goalscoring hero - but took another step in putting a nightmare start to the season behind him.

David Cuffley

Michael Nelson was denied a second successive weekend as Norwich City's goalscoring hero - but took another step in putting a nightmare start to the season behind him.

The 29-year-old centre-half, who scored a spectacular first goal for the Canaries in the 2-0 win against former club Hartlepool nine days ago, looked to have put them on course for another three points when he headed home Paul McVeigh's second-half corner in Saturday's drab League One encounter with Walsall at Carrow Road, only for his effort to be disallowed.

But Nelson at least had the satisfaction of contributing to a third successive clean sheet since being recalled to the defence by manager Paul Lambert.

TV footage made it hard to detect why referee Russell Booth disallowed the goal - certainly Nelson was not the offender.

“Grant Holt said the referee turned round and said he'd fouled the 'keeper but Grant said he'd just stood his ground,” said Nelson. “I think it's one of those where as soon as you touch the 'keeper inside the six-yard box he gets a foul. I didn't see it myself but he disallowed it.”

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Replays suggested defender Clayton McDonald was the only player who may have been obstructed before Nelson's header flew in.

He said: “I managed to lose my marker and come in, it was just a case of getting something on the ball. It was a great ball in by Paul McVeigh and it just needed a contact on it to put it in the net.

“We can take a clean sheet as a positive from the game but a goal would have been really nice.

“I think you'd have got good odds at the bookies on 0-0 with the amount of goals there have been lately. It's nice that we kept a clean sheet, three in a row now, it just gives us that little bit of stability and let's the lads in front know that if we are going to keep a clean sheet we only need one goal to win the game.

“They had a couple of half-chances and us the same, but there were no real clear-cut opportunities. It was one of those games where it was played in the middle third rather than the final third. But if you're not going to win a game you've got to make sure you don't lose it. We may look back at the end of the season and it might be a vital point.”

The picture looks much brighter for Nelson than four weeks ago when his City debut ended in a disastrous 7-1 home defeat by Colchester, after which he did not take the field for five matches. The awful day is gone but certainly not forgotten.

He said: “I don't know if it's gone from everyone's mind. Maybe it's good to keep some of the things that happened that day in your mind. You don't just sweep them under the carpet and forget about them. Certainly the bad things that happened on that day, you do well to look back on them and make sure you don't do them again.

“Everyone deals with it differently. Some people just blank it out of the memory and forget about it. Other people will deal with it in different ways.”

After five games in 15 days under their new boss, City are sidelined until next Monday's League One televised trip to MK Dons.

“Just coming back into the team, I've played three games this week but we'll have a rest from the matches now,” said Nelson.

“I hope we can work on different things in training because we haven't had any length of time to have a good two or three days working on the training ground.

“There has always been a day's training then a game, then a couple of days then another game. So it gives us a good chance for the manager to put some more plans into action and get ourselves ready for next Monday.

“MK Dons are going to be a test. Walsall were a test today. A lot of people probably thought they wouldn't be, but it's what you get in this league. Week in, week out, you get funny results.

“We just have to make sure we're consistent, on our mettle and start better than we did today. We didn't really come out of the blocks, but again we didn't lose.”