Iwan Roberts: All systems go for Canaries

Norwich City celebrate Championship victory away to Coventry

Norwich City players celebrate victory over Coventry - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Back-to-back wins, six goals scored, just one conceded, six points in the bag and after a couple of uncertain weeks for the club I thinks it's fair to say it’s all systems go for automatic promotion for Norwich City. 

It’s been a good few days for the club, especially with Championship rivals Brentford losing back-to-back games for the first time in the league since Swansea and Barnsley (again, as they did last Sunday) beat them back at the end of July last year.

Maybe it’s their turn to have a bit of a wobble right now and even though I can’t see it myself, let's hope they make it a hat-rick of defeats on Saturday lunchtime when they visit St Andrews to play Coventry, who looked very average against Norwich on Wednesday night. 

I’ve said it many times in the past - every team in the Championship goes through a blip at some stage in a season. In a 46-game season it's impossible not to, as it's so hard to maintain those high standards you’ve set week in, week out without having a dip in form, especially this season when it's so congested with games coming thick and fast. 

One team in that top six that’s yet to suffer a dodgy period are Swansea, who are on a terrific run, having lost just one of their last 13 games, nine of which they’ve won.

Wednesday night was a struggle for them at home to improving Nottingham Forest, who were in good form themselves, losing just once in their previous 11 league games. Chris Hughton took his Forest side to The Liberty last month in the FA Cup and were hammered 5-1, but it was a different story Wednesday night. 


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After watching the first half of the Norwich game and seeing it was done and dusted by half-time, I then watched the second half of Swansea v Forest. Forest will be kicking themselves they came away from south Wales empty-handed, but Swansea fans will be thinking what a good sign that was; their team were well below par but somehow still managed to win the game 1-0 thanks to wing back Connor Roberts' 88th-minute winner -  the same player who won the game at the City Ground at the end of November with his solitary goal. 

Referee Darren Drysdale and Ipswich Town's Alan Judge

Referee Darren Drysdale appeared to square up to Ipswich Town's Alan Judge - Credit: Steve Waller

Something happened down at Portman Road on Tuesday night (I could say Ipswich played well, but I’m not that petty!) that I’ve never seen happen on a football pitch before -  a referee confronted a player and nearly took matters into his own hands.

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Now I’ve no idea what Ipswich’s Alan Judge said to the ref, Darren Drysdale but whatever it was it’s safe to say it touched a nerve. Drysdale’s reaction shocked me as you simply can’t do what he did - he aggressively approached Judge and stuck his forehead with a head-butting motion into the player's face, something you simply can’t do. 

I’ve every sympathy for refs as they do get verbally slaughtered by players - I’ve done it myself over the years and it's not until you get older and wiser you realise it's not right. But you can’t react like Darren Drysdale did. He’s been a referee for 20 years and nothing like this has ever happened to him before so I hope the FA will show him some leniency and sympathy now that he’s been charged for the unfortunate incident. We all make mistakes and we learn from them and try and move on and hopefully he’ll be allowed to do the same. 

One man who showed Drysdale no sympathy at all was Ipswich manager Paul Lambert who really threw the official under the bus with his comments after the game. Mind you, I get the feeling Paul was trying to deflect attention from himself and his team after yet another awful performance, which leaves them with just two wins in their last eight games and sitting once again in mid-table mediocrity!


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