False start costly, says City defender

David Cuffley Russell Martin grabbed his first goal for Norwich City last night - but would gladly have swapped it for three points, or even one, at Doncaster Rovers.

David Cuffley

Russell Martin grabbed his first goal for Norwich City last night - but would gladly have swapped it for three points, or even one, at Doncaster Rovers.

The full-back's 65th-minute header brought the Canaries back into the game at 2-1 down and offered hope that they might at least salvage a draw from the Championship match at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But Rovers sharpshooter James Coppinger had the final word as he completed a hat-trick four minutes from time to end any chance of a comeback from Paul Lambert's men.

Defeat left City disappointed but defiant as they prepare for an even longer trip to Preston North End on Saturday.

For 24-year-old Martin, who opened his goalscoring account on his 35th senior appearance for the club when he headed home from skipper Grant Holt's cross, it was a bitter-sweet evening.

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He said: “It's nice to get off the mark. I should probably have had one before now but it doesn't mean anything. I'd rather we'd taken the three points and I didn't score. That's how I feel.

“Holty put it on a plate and I couldn't miss. I probably should have had one just before that, to be honest. It came out quickly to me and it just went wide.”

Martin admitted that City, who conceded the first goal for the sixth time in eight matches this season in all competitions, had to break the habit of having to play catch-up.

He said: “We didn't start the game well enough and we can't keep giving teams a goal start. That's what happened tonight.

“We then gave away a sloppy goal at the start of the second half, which gave us a mountain to climb and we couldn't get back from that.

“But I think for the last 20 minutes of the first half and especially all the second half we came here to a team who are renowned for being very good at home and playing good football and we dominated them.

“They passed it well for the first 20 minutes but after that I don't think we let them get playing. They caught us on the counter-attack at the start of the second half with a goal that killed the game for us a bit, but with the effort the lads have put in we probably should have had something out of the game before we conceded the third one.

“Not many teams will come here and win games so we can't get too down on ourselves.”

There was, Martin admitted, a more ruthless streak in Championship sides.

“The lesson we've taken in this division is that teams will punish you - definitely punish you a lot more, like they did on the counter-attack for the second goal. They will punish mistakes. We've just got to cut out the mistakes,” he said.

“The third goal was a killer goal, nothing we could do with it, but we definitely deserved more than we got. I don't think it was a 3-1 game at all.”

Martin will be up against his former Peterborough boss, Darren Ferguson, at Deepdale on Saturday, and promised City would continue to attack.

He said: “We don't go anywhere to draw games or to stop people playing. We go to play our game and we'll go there Saturday and do exactly the same.”

City's defence has been overhauled during the summer with a new goalkeeper and new central defensive partnerships, but Martin does not believe lack of familiarity played any part in last night's defeat.

He said: “It's disappointing. I know people will look at the fact we have conceded three goals, but one was from 30 yards, a great strike you can't do anything about, one was a deflection and yes, the other one was a sloppy goal, to be honest.

“But I think we've done OK. We've kept a couple of good clean sheets and at Forest we should have had another clean sheet.

“John Ruddy was just unfortunate with the second goal tonight, but he's saved us in a couple of games. It's one of those things, he'll pick himself up.”