Croft's praise for Marshall
David Cuffley Lee Croft reflected on the excellence of both goalkeepers after his hopes of becoming Norwich City matchwinner for the second week running were thwarted in a goalless draw at Barnsley.
Lee Croft reflected on the excellence of both goalkeepers after his hopes of becoming Norwich City matchwinner for the second week running were thwarted in a goalless draw at Barnsley.
The out-of-sorts Canaries seldom threatened to chalk up another Championship victory over South Yorkshire opponents after Croft's stoppage-time winner at home to Sheffield United seven days earlier.
But the winger very nearly found the net midway through the second half when his venomous cross-cum-shot was kept out by goalkeeper Heinz Muller.
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Muller had already produced a brilliant one-handed save from Antoine Sibierski's first-half header on the one other occasion City came close to breaking the deadlock at Oakwell in a game largely dominated by the hosts.
Croft said of his effort: “Yes, it was intended and I thought it might have crept in but it wasn't to be.
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“I felt I was getting more of the ball in the second half and enjoying it a lot more and getting at them but we couldn't get that goal.”
Manager Glenn Roeder replaced Croft with Wes Hoolahan with 15 minutes to go but the outside-right admitted: “There was nothing wrong. I think the gaffer just wanted to give Wes the last 15 minutes and bring on some fresh legs. I hope I'll be a bit fresher at Southampton on Tuesday night because of that.”
For the second match in a row, goalkeeper David Marshall rescued City, this time saving a first-half penalty from Jon Macken and making three more important saves before the break, one from an amazing Diego Leon effort from almost the halfway line after just 30 seconds.
Croft admitted: “We didn't start well. They put us under some quite severe pressure, but Marshy's been flippin' unbelievable again and kept us in the game.
“I noticed as soon as he came here what qualities he had and this season he's been unbelievable. We owe a lot to him the last few games and today with the penalty save, but not only that, his overall play has been fantastic and he's great for me because he'll come and get things and he's always looking to get us straight on the attack. Long may he continue playing like that.”
Marshall's vigilance at least ensured a second clean sheet in a row for the Canaries.
Said Croft: “In the second half, we tried to penetrate, tried to get in behind them but it just wasn't to be. The gaffer said if you want to pick a positive out of it we haven't played as well as we have done but we've come away with a point away from home.
“If we've got lads in the team who can be resilient even when we're not playing well we can still pick up points like that.
“We've not played well today and we need to put that right at Southampton. It's a nice stadium, a nice pitch and we'll go there and, I hope, play the football we know we can play. But credit to the lads today, we've got a point and we'll take that.”
Roeder said Croft was substituted because he had started to tire.
“Again, generally speaking, he played well,” said Roeder. “Like the rest of them, he can do better and Wesley gave us a different option. Lee had run himself into the ground.”