Lambert's Norwich City prove quick learners
Chris Lakey If the message a week ago was 'could do better', then Paul Lambert's match report from the trip to Scunthorpe will be 'homework done as requested - fine result'. The City boss learned the lessons from the opening game defeat at home to Watford - one in which he admitted he could have done better - and made the necessary changes.
If the message a week ago was “could do better”, then Paul Lambert's match report from the trip to Scunthorpe will be “homework done as requested - fine result”.
The City boss learned the lessons from the opening game defeat at home to Watford - one in which he admitted he could have done better - and made the necessary changes.
He beefed up midfield, Andrew Crofts coming in for David Fox in the centre, and Korey Smith rewarded for his Carling Cup performance against Gillingham with a start on the right.
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And with the back four and goalkeeper John Ruddy looking more solid, the foundation was there for the vital first win of the season.
“I just knew it was going to be a fight up here, a battle, and it proved to be that way,” said Lambert. “And as I said, not many teams will come up here and beat them because it's a small ground and Nigel (manager Nigel Adkins) has done brilliant with them, but we just thought we had to go pretty strong.”
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The game was won in time added on, when Grant Holt stretched to head in substitute Simon Lappin's perfect cross from the left.
“It was a terrific goal - a terrific cross and an absolutely fantastic header,” said Lambert.
“I thought we deserved to win the game and I thought we got on top of it really well against a really good side. They won't get beaten many times here and you can see why they're hard to beat on their own place. But I thought we were excellent right from the off.
“We defended strongly when we had to defend, but I thought some of the attacking play was terrific. I thought Crofts was brilliant for me, and I thought the whole team were excellent.
“I thought the front two lads were a handful the whole game. Wes (Hoolahan) does what he does best when he creates havoc at times for opposition teams. I'm delighted with the way we played.”
While Lambert was delighted with the overall performance, there were some individual contributions that he couldn't let pass without comment: Hoolahan for one, and especially his willingness to put in a shift all along the pitch.
“I don't think people see that side of his game,” said Lambert. “He is a really, really fit lad, an absolutelty terrific footballer going forward but also does his fair share of the defensive duties. I think in the modern day game you have to do it.”
The goal came at the very death - it was pure Holt, pure centre- forward's play.
“You've seen it all last season what he's like,” Lambert said. “He has a great desire to get into a goal scoring position. A terrific ball by Simon and an absolutely terrific header.”
It may not have happened had it not been for an incident some 30 seconds earlier when Michael Nelson denied a genuine scoring opportunity for Jonathan Fortune, producing a perfectly-timed and perfectly-executed tackle just 10 yards from goal. It was a match-saver.
Lambert said: “He did, and I just told him. An absolutely brilliant tackle it was and that was Michael back to his best, what he was doing last year, getting blocks in, and I thought him and Ward got better and better as the game went on.”
Welcome as the first win of the campaign was, there was clearly huge satisfaction that the back four and keeper looked more solid than they did eight days earlier against Watford.
“I'm delighted with them,” said Lambert. “They took a bit of stick and it was new to them. The whole game was just a bizarre game, the Watford game, but I am delighted with the win and the way we played.
“It's a big three points. We spoke about the Watford thing and too much distraction from that game.
“We did great the other night against Gillingham and I thought again today we looked really good.”