First-class reply stirs the passion

RICK WAGHORN City boss Nigel Worthington offered one word in defence of his clenched fist salute to his detractors as Jonatan Johansson bagged Saturday's last-gasp winner against Stoke City - “passion”.

RICK WAGHORN

City boss Nigel Worthington offered one word in defence of his clenched fist salute to his detractors as Jonatan Johansson bagged Saturday's last-gasp winner against Stoke City - “passion”.

With a typically lame end-of-season game locked at 1-1 and seemingly meandering nowhere, Worthington's Carrow Road critics were busily having their say in the game's final minutes.

Suddenly, City 'keeper Robert Green pulled off a heroic goal-line save to claw Sammy Bangoura's thumping header off the line and some 30 seconds later - with virtually his first touch of the ball - “JJ” calmly drilled the ball beyond Steve Simonsen in the Potters' goal to hand the under-fire City boss another lifeline.


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“That's passion for you - it was just passion to see the team win,” said Worthington, sidestepping a clear opportunity to get into a bigger war of words with the 400 or so protesters who gathered before the game to demand his head and the unrelenting 100 who continued their bitter protest afterwards.

“I can't stop people from having their say,” said Worthington, who had Green giving a similar pumped-up celebration on the pitch as Johansson's third goal in City's last four home games took his side to within six points of the play-off places, albeit with Preston North End enjoying three games in hand.

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The fact that the Canaries' next test is away to Leeds United - 2-1 winners at their play-off rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday - could, of course, yet see City take one step back after this weekend's tiny step forward. Alternatively, a half-decent performance and even a battling point might slightly calm an inflamed situation as opinions remain starkly divided on the manager's Carrow Road future.

“I am open-minded and everybody is entitled to their opinion - it's their prerogative,” said Worthington. “I have got a job to do - and I thought the response of the players and the staff when that second goal went in summed up the spirit within the group. It is first class.”

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