Cody reminds the boss what he's got to offer

David Cuffley Striker Cody McDonald grabbed a rare first team opportunity by scoring a late winner for League One leaders Norwich City, then declared: 'I hope I've given the gaffer a bit of a headache'.

David Cuffley

Striker Cody McDonald grabbed a rare first team opportunity by scoring a late winner for League One leaders Norwich City, then declared: “I hope I've given the gaffer a bit of a headache”.

Substitute McDonald struck the decisive goal five minutes from time as Paul Lambert's Canaries came from behind to beat Walsall 2-1 at the Banks's Stadium and open up a three-point gap at the top of the table.

It was City's seventh successive league win and stretched their unbeaten run to 15 matches.

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Starved of senior football this season, the 23-year-old McDonald made the most of his first slice of the action since the Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie at Southampton six weeks ago.

He did not so much come in from the cold as go out into a bitter January night and produce the moment that sent nearly 1,400 travelling fans home with a warm glow, meeting Wes Hoolahan's teasing ball with a neat volley that flew in off the post.

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“It's always nice to come on and score. It was quite an important goal, so from a personal point of view I'm happy but more so for the team,” said McDonald. “It was a very tough game. I don't think a lot of teams will come here and grind a result out like we did. We played the conditions and I thought we played brilliantly.”

City trailed to Troy Deeney's 35th-minute goal until Chris Martin equalised with 13 minutes left, his 18th goal of the season. Then McDonald's third goal of the campaign settled the issue.

He said: “I was just ahead of the penalty spot. It was a great ball in from Wes - and then the pressure was on me and thankfully it went in. I've played with him on the training ground every day, so I know he's capable of doing things like that.

“It came across quite quickly but those ones are a little bit better, when it's more instinct.

The more time you've got on the ball, sometimes it can be a bit awkward

“As I saw it going towards the far post I was following in but thankfully it clipped the inside of the post and went in.”

With skipper Grant Holt starting a three-match ban, Lambert paired Oli Johnson with Martin in attack before giving McDonald the final 25 minutes.

“Unfortunately, Grant was out tonight so that gave me a bit more of an opportunity. I hope I've given the gaffer a bit of a headache. That's what I'm here to do,” said McDonald.

“We're professionals and I don't moan about the role I've got. I just come and do what I'm asked to do.”

McDonald said there was no discontent at his lack of first team opportunities during City's charge to the top of the table.

He said: “They are your mates, you want them to do well and it's just brilliant to be around the place. When we are doing so well, there's a great buzz around the place.

“I hope I'll get to play a bit more of a part, like I have done tonight.

“But we'll leave that one up to the manager. He does what he feels is best and he's proved it again tonight. It's worked out again so you just have to respect whatever decision he makes.”

The three points summed up City's determination not to give in, said McDonald. “A draw might have been a good result but it just shows our character. We're not going to give up, we're not going to let teams turn us over that easily,” he said.

“We have turned it round in the last 15 minutes and that shows what great character we've got at the minute.

“We just keep going to the end and if it takes the last 15 minutes to get a couple of goals to win the game, that's what we'll do.”

Lambert said McDonald and Anthony McNamee, who appeared as a double substitution, had grabbed their chance to impress.

He said: “Anthony and Cody came on and were excellent.”

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