Goals from everywhere is the key to Norwich City success
Norwich City’s hat-trick heroes are firing them towards another record-breaking campaign as they bid to book a return ticket to the Premier League.
The Canaries’ 3-2 home victory over Derby County on Easter Monday made them the Championship’s highest scorers with 80 goals, taking them ahead of Leeds United, still on 78 after their 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
Simeon Jackson’s match-winning hat-trick was also the fifth by a City player this season – equalling the club’s previous best tally of five hat-tricks in all competitions in 1962-63.
In addition, Jackson’s treble took Paul Lambert’s team one ahead of the total of 79 goals scored by the Nationwide League title-winning side under Nigel Worthington seven years ago, and they still have two games still to play. And though City may fall short of the 89 goals they scored in winning the League One title last season, another scoring spree in the final two fixtures could still take them past their best ever total in the second tier of English football, which was 84 in Division Two in 1985-86, though Ken Brown’s team played only 42 matches.
Canadian striker Jackson’s second hat-trick in three home games completed a memorable April for the player. He started the month in style when he came off the bench to score three times in the 6-0 win over Scunthorpe, and followed it up with goals in the 2-2 draw at Watford and the 5-1 win at Ipswich.
Skipper Grant Holt scored hat-tricks at home to Ipswich and Scunthorpe, while Wes Hoolahan bagged a second-half treble in the 4-2 home win over Sheffield United.
Evening News columnist and former City winger Neil Adams believes there are three key reasons why Lambert’s team are the division’s top scorers, amassing 18 goals in April alone – their policy of going for the win in every game, the formation they use, and their ability to score goals from all departments.
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“The manager’s attitude is ‘We have to go for it’. Everybody realises they are trying to win every game,” said Adams.
“There is no caginess, no negativity. There are obviously games where you have to be more careful than others, but it’s fabulous for the supporters to know that there is that positive approach. It’s not just the number of goals, but the number of late goals. You have to believe that you are always going to do it – and in the 95th minute against Derby they were still believing it.
“Nobody wants to miss out by a point at the end of the season and look back and ask ‘What if we had gone for it against Derby?’
“Paul Lambert has also picked a system that suits the players he has. Some managers pick a system then try to force the players to conform to it.”
Goals from defence and midfield have been another major factor in City’s success, with Holt and the in-form Jackson backed up by the men behind them. Six different defenders have scored Championship goals this season.
“Very few sides succeed with just two players scoring all the goals, but Wes Hoolahan is in double figures, Andrew Crofts has scored eight, Andrew Surman is starting to chip in and look at Russell Martin, with five goals from full-back,” said Adams.
The last time City managed five hat-tricks in the same season was in 1962-63, though two of them were in cup competitions. Terry Allcock scored two threes, plus a four in the FA Cup against Newcastle, while Jimmy Hill and Jim Oliver also bagged trebles.
The Canaries finished that season with 80 league goals, the same as their current tally, but from just 42 games.
City’s Championship goal rush has included a six, a five and three fours this season. The home victory over Scunthorpe was their first 6-0 win for 41 years, and the first time they had scored six times in a league game since 1985. The 4-1 and 5-1 wins over Ipswich were their biggest derby victories.
The Canaries’ best league goals total in any division is still 99 from 46 games in Division Three South in 1952-53.