Marshall: Home games key to play-off bid

David Cuffley Goalkeeper David Marshall reckons Norwich City's next three home games will be vital if they are to mount a remarkable assault on the Championship play-off places.

David Cuffley

Goalkeeper David Marshall reckons Norwich City's next three home games will be vital if they are to mount a remarkable assault on the Championship play-off places.

The Canaries moved within four points of sixth place in the table with Saturday's 2-1 victory over Cardiff City at Ninian Park, which stretched their unbeaten run to 12 league games.

Glenn Roeder's revitalised team have moved from rock bottom to 13th place in the space of 11 weeks, and will be aiming to keep up the good work when eighth-placed Hull City visit Carrow Road tomorrow (7.45).

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With next Saturday's trip to Leicester followed by successive home matches against Barnsley and Blackpool, Marshall admitted there was a real opportunity to close the gap even further on the leading pack. The P-word is suddenly being taken seriously.

He said: “This win takes us close to Cardiff in the table and closer to the play-offs. We've never really mentioned it, we're just taking each game as it comes, but if you keep doing that and keep getting results eventually you're going to have to talk about it and plan towards it.

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“We've got a big week coming up on Tuesday and Saturday, and we have to be ready for Hull.

“Our home games are going to be vital, so if we can take most of our points there, I think we've got a chance.”

The 22-year-old 'keeper made a vital contribution to victory over the Bluebirds with a marvellous one-handed save from a Paul Parry header 12 minutes from time, then watched in awe as 19-year-old striker Ched Evans fired a spectacular 88th-minute winner, his second goal of the match.

“It was incredible. It was possibly the best goal I've seen,” said Marshall. “If you look at the game, a draw would have been pretty fair, but if you get somebody like Ched who can do that, it's great to have.

“To come back to Wales, he's probably been dreaming about that last night, doing something like that. It was brilliant.”

Of his own save, he said: “I think it was going in, so it was an important time. At the end of the day, a point wouldn't have been a bad result here, but we're just grateful to Ched who banged one in at the end.

“I think that's been the thing about the team. Everybody's pitched in and it's been a team effort. Although Ched's been great, getting the goals today, the whole team over the past 12, 15 games has been great. It's good when everybody's been getting in on the act.

“It's usually somebody different every game that's grabbing the headlines. It was Rusty last week so as long we keep getting matchwinners it's all good.”

The Canaries have taken 17 points from their last eight away games - after taking just one point from the first eight on their travels.

“We got our first point at Preston on the first day of the season then we struggled badly,” said Marshall. “We're probably getting a bit lucky at the moment, but I think we deserve that, just how hard the boys are working. If we can keep our home form up and if we can nick points away from home it's all well and good - but if we can win games it gives you an extra edge as well.”

Even Roeder, determined not to look beyond the next game, admitted he had never settled on mere Championship survival.

He said: “The boys have done the club proud. We had eight points at the end of October and I think if you'd offered the fans an opportunity to stay in the Championship with a couple of games to go, they would have grabbed it with both hands.”

But he would not have been satisfied with that, he said.

“Life has taught me to be positive and when you're positive, most times things work out the way you want it to, so I've been very focused,” he said.

“I've been there before when you have to go to the last game or so and it's horrible and I didn't want that again, so I've worked on the basis that we can pull ourselves away from the bottom three much sooner than the last couple of games and I think we're doing that quite nicely without too many people noticing, although I guess people will start to notice now.

“Our fans have started to dream, which is better than the nightmares they were having at the end of October when we had eight points. But I work one game at a time and all my concentration now is on working towards the home game against Hull City.”

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