Grant reveals hero worship
DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City's “unsung heroes” earned a glowing tribute from manager Peter Grant after taking starring roles in a stirring 3-1 victory over Leicester.
Norwich City's “unsung heroes” earned a glowing tribute from manager Peter Grant last night after taking starring roles in a stirring 3-1 victory over Leicester.
Goalscorer Carl Robinson and emergency defender Andy Hughes won over a vibrant home crowd with gutsy performances as the Canaries bounced back from a goal down to take three points from probably the best game seen at Carrow Road this season.
Robinson scored a vital equaliser on the stroke of half-time with a superb header from Darren Huckerby's cross, while Hughes stood out after switching to left-back after 19 minutes when skipper Adam Drury departed with a back injury.
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Both players have had their fair share of criticism in the past - a fact not lost on Grant, who was thrilled with Robinson's goal.
He said: “We talk about midfield players getting in at the back post. We don't do enough of that. We got a fantastic ball from Darren and Robbo got in and finished it like a striker. I was chuffed for him because he's a bit of an unsung hero. I know he gets a little bit of criticism here and there.
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“I've moved him from left to right to middle and had him chasing round about the pitch. He never moans, he gets on with it and he's been a wonderful 100 per cent pro for me since I came here and I'm delighted for him if he gets a bit of the limelight for a change because he deserves it.”
Grant also praised Hughes for taking on the responsibility of filling in for Drury.
He said: “He came over and said 'Gaffer, I'll go left-back'. I was going to put him at right-back and move Jürgen Colin to the left but he said 'I'll play anywhere' and he went back there and I thought he was outstanding.
“I know he had a wee bit of a problem before I came here. But he gives you 100 per cent every day in training and sometimes his enthusiasm drives you up the wall because he's running at outside-left with five minutes to go and I'm trying to get him to stay in his position. But that's his enthusiasm to do well and you can never fault that. I'm chuffed to bits for him because he deserves the credit, playing in a false position and playing as well as he did. That's great credit to a super pro.”
Grant praised two more of his walking wounded when he said: “Jürgen Colin and Peter Thorne never trained yesterday but these guys dragged themselves up to play in the game and that's a massive, massive plus for me - guys that want to play.”
The only setbacks on the night were Drury's injury and a fifth yellow card for Youssef Safri, which means he faces a one-match ban for the next home game against Sheffield Wednesday.
“Adam's got a back problem. It seems to be one thing after the other and that concerns me a little bit. We're getting knocks here left, right and centre and it's a lot of games using the same squad as we have,” said Grant.
Robert Earnshaw's 13th goal of the season, set up by substitute Safri, and an own goal in stoppage time from Leicester substitute Gareth McAuley wrapped up victory.
Said Earnshaw: “I saw Saf closing the ball down, it was great work. He closed the player down, nicked the ball and just left me with the finish, so I'm happy. Robbo's goal was a great finish and I'm happy for him as well.”
Grant added: “We got the three points and, to be fair, Leicester put us under severe pressure at times in the second period. But we dug in and our determination won us the game. There was a lot of effort, a lot of commitment from everybody. It's incredible what that can do for you.
“There was a steely determination. I thought we went a goal down against the run of play. But scoring before half-time gave us a lift. The boys knew they were on the front foot, they were getting closer to people, they were trying to do their jobs properly. We know they can do them better. There was a willingness and determination not to lose this game and I think that showed in the end.”
Leicester manager Rob Kelly refused to be too critical of defender Patrick Kisnorbo, who gave the ball away in the build-up to City's second goal.
“It was an honest mistake, that's all I can say,” he said. “But I'm not going to criticise Patrick now because he has hardly made mistake since I have been in charge. He's the sort of person you would go to war with and these things happen.
“Overall it was a strange game. I thought we dominated it for long spells, especially in the first half but we were punished for our errors.”