DAVID CUFFLEY Lee Croft ended his six-month Norwich City goal drought with a tinge of regret - that it won't have an impact on the promotion race. The 21-year-old winger found the net in the Canaries' 3-1 Coca-Cola Championship win at Barnsley on Saturday, his first goal since Peter Grant arrived as manager, and in fact his first since the 5-1 home victory over the Tykes back in August.
Lee Croft ended his six-month Norwich City goal drought with a tinge of regret - that it won't have an impact on the promotion race.
The 21-year-old winger found the net in the Canaries' 3-1 Coca-Cola Championship win at Barnsley on Saturday, his first goal since Peter Grant arrived as manager, and in fact his first since the 5-1 home victory over the Tykes back in August.
Though the result put a comfortable nine-point cushion between City and the relegation places, Croft felt a sense of disappointment that they were not in a challenging position as they prepare to take on three of the promotion contenders in the next eight days.
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He said: “I was speaking to Simon Lappin in the changing room after the game and he said we should be playing these games to get into the play-offs, not to be avoiding relegation, and that's where we feel we should be.”
With tomorrow night's visit of Derby followed by Saturday's trip to Cardiff and a home game against Birmingham three days later, City can have a big say in the promotion shake-up, but are 15 points adrift of the top six themselves and well out of contention.
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Said Croft: “We should be on their heels, not looking behind us. Consistency has been our problem but confidence seems to be rising.
“We'll just kick on now, get as many wins as we can until the end of the season and push on next season and give it a right good go.”
Croft has had his share of misses and misfortune lately but struck City's second after 25 minutes at Oakwell, sandwiched between excellent goals for Darren Huckerby, his 10th of the season, and Chris Martin, his fourth in just eight senior outings.
Croft admitted: “I said to the coaching staff that I was due one, so it was nice to get a goal, especially in the passage of play where we were playing so well in the first half. I really enjoyed it and the goal topped it off.
“We played so well, came out of the traps really quickly. Some of the link-up play and some of the passing and movement and play going forward was fantastic.
“We know we're capable of that. That's two wins on the bounce and I hope that's a sign of things to come and we can put the past behind us.
“We've not been renowned for winning away from home so in such a crucial period to come away from home and win two important games, it's credit to the lads and the coaching staff.”
Grant paid tribute to Croft's performance and said he hoped the return to fitness of Luke Chadwick - on the bench at Barnsley - would keep him on his toes.
Said Grant: “I'm delighted for him because his work ethic's fantastic within the team. It's a hard shift, I call it the graveyard shift out there on the right-hand side of the pitch because you've got to get up and down the pitch constantly, you've got to get inside, you've got to get to the back post when you're attacking, you've got to help out your midfield and defenders when you're defending. It's a really difficult job for him.
“But now he knows that Luke Chadwick's on the way back - he was on the bench today - and it's perfect timing for him to score a goal because you want competition throughout your team and may the best man win.”