Iwan Roberts: The day I turned into Ricky Villa...

Grant Hanley of Norwich heads for goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich

Grant Hanley had two headed chances from corners against the Tykes - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The hard-fought win against Barnsley last Saturday saw Norwich reach the halfway point of a grueling season, sitting pretty at the top of The Championship with 47 points from their 23 games.  

If they can amount another 40 plus points in the second half of the season there is no doubt in my mind that they will win automatic promotion back to the Premier League. 

I love making comparisons to previous successful seasons, so here goes. At exactly the halfway point two seasons ago, Norwich had won exactly the same amount of points that they’ve amassed this season - 47.  

The team two seasons ago scored 10 more goals and conceded 5 more in their opening 23 games, and they kept one more clean sheet, eight compared to the seven this season. Coincidently the two teams have identical records when it comes to the won, lost and drawn columns, with 14 wins, five draws, and just the four defeats. 

Things are definitely looking good, and there’s a real good feel factor about the place after a decent December where the team took 16 points from a possible 24.  

They got off to a winning start to the New Year which was something that always played on my mind in my playing days. It didn’t matter what we had done in the first half of the season or how many goals I’d scored, I couldn’t wait to win our first game and to especially score my first goal in a New Year.  

The longer the wait the more it would play on my mind, and I couldn’t fully relax and enjoy my football until that first win, and in particular until I’d found the back of the net for the first time. 

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With no league fixture now until the 16th, when the lads have a long journey to the Cardiff City Stadium, these next couple of weeks give Daniel an ideal opportunity to rest some of the lads who’ve been heavily involved in recent weeks. 

I think when the draw was made for the third round of the FA Cup a lot of us were left a little flat and slightly disappointed when Coventry were pulled out of the hat to visit Carrow Road. Nothing against Coventry at all but as a player when cup draws were being made, I didn’t want to be drawn against a side from the same division as us; playing them twice a season was more than enough. 

The question people ask me the most is “what is the best goal you have ever scored?”  

If I’m honest I could count on one hand the great goals I scored, and I’d still have a couple of fingers spare. However, I did score a memorable goal against Coventry in the FA Youth Cup back in 1987 for Watford at Vicarage Road, and I think it’s the best goal I ever scored even though I was still an apprentice at the time. 

Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian International Ricardo Villa keeps a close eye on Notts County's Iain

Ricky Villa scored a memorable goal against Manchester City in the 1981 FA Cup replay. - Credit: PA

For those of us who can remember, the goal I scored was nearly identical to the great goal Ricardo Villa scored for Spurs against Manchester City in the replay of the 1981 FA Cup final, a goal that won Spurs the cup. 

At the time I think I surprised myself the way I received the ball outside of the Coventry penalty box, and then twisted and turned and weaved myself past about six Coventry players to smash the ball home in the dying minutes to bring the scores level 2-2, which obviously meant a replay at Coventry’s old ground Highfield Road. 

We lost the replay 2-1 with me getting our goal. I was distraught after the game as I thought we were by far the better side and should have gone on to the semi-final. Coventry went on to beat Charlton 2-1 on aggregate in the final and in a way justified why people had made them favourites to win that season’s FA Youth Cup before a ball had been kicked in the competition. 

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