Martin - Super subs keep us on our toes

David Cuffley Striker Chris Martin believes the men on the substitutes' bench have a vital role to play in Norwich City's promotion bid - whether they get on the field or not.

David Cuffley

Striker Chris Martin believes the men on the substitutes' bench have a vital role to play in Norwich City's promotion bid - whether they get on the field or not.

Stephen Hughes earned a valuable League One point with the 75th-minute equaliser in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Southampton, just three minutes after being introduced.

It was the sixth time a substitute has scored for the Canaries this season, but even those who don't make it on to the pitch are keeping the rest on their toes, according to Martin.

He said: “Anyone will tell you a settled team is probably a better team than chopping and changing all the time. It is very important. You get to know each other's game, how you play, what positions you take up.

“I think that's worked in our favour, picking mostly the same team for the past month or so. The lads who are on the bench at the minute are probably feeling a little bit disappointed, but they're the ones who are pushing us on to try and improve and play even better to try to keep them out of the team.

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“We've got a good healthy competition in the squad, which is key to building a promotion push.”

Martin had a hand in both goals at St Mary's Stadium, winning the penalty that led to City's first equaliser from Wes Hoolahan, then producing the powerful shot that led to Hughes making it 2-2 when goalkeeper Kelvin Davis was unable to hold it.

He said: “Korey (Smith) did brilliantly to flick it round the corner to me when I called for it and I just had one thing on my mind - just shoot.

“Luckily it dipped right in front of the 'keeper, he couldn't deal with it and Hughesy slid in there, did brilliantly and it went under the 'keeper and into the net.

“It was a good little striker's finish, getting in off the rebound. I hope it gives him a lot of confidence. He's been out injured and hasn't played in recent weeks too much, but he's a very good player and I'm sure if he keeps putting in the displays that will give him a boost.”

The 54th-minute penalty came when Martin was tripped by Saints defender Lloyd James, but he felt he should have had a second spot-kick after a challenge by Neal Trotman.

He said: “The first one was a definite penalty. There was another one about 10 minutes later that I thought was a stonewall penalty. The ref never gave it and the linesman was in a great position. The guy clearly tripped me, he's even told me himself that there was a foul. So from that point of view I think we were unlucky.

“I think we deserved a point and perhaps could have got all three in the end.

“In the first half we didn't control it as much as we wanted to, but we got ourselves back in the game and at 1-1 we looked the only team likely to go on and win it.

“Then Connolly pulled an absolutely brilliant goal out of the bag and put us on the back foot again, but we showed great spirit again to come back and I think we were definitely the ones pushing on for the win in the last period of the game.

“We showed grit and determination, as we have in previous weeks, to get a draw out of the game where perhaps some teams might have folded.

“The lads have dug in and it could be an important point come the end of the season.”

Brighton are City's next League One opponents, tomorrow night.

Said Martin: “We need to make Carrow Road a bit of a fortress. I know it's a bit of an old clich� but it's important if you're trying to win promotion that you win most of your home games and I'll sure we'll take confidence from the fighting spirit we showed today.”