No excuses from Worthington

CHRIS WISE Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington spoke of his frustration after watching his under-performing stars turn in a distinctly lacklustre performance in one of their biggest matches of the season.


Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington spoke of his frustration after watching his under-performing stars turn in a distinctly lacklustre performance in one of their biggest matches of the season.

The Canaries talked a good game in the lead up to yesterday's derby showdown with arch-rivals Ipswich and, according to their boss, also looked good in training as they prepared for the sell-out fixture.

But when the big show finally arrived they fluffed their lines completely and could have had absolutely no complaints as the visitors returned home with all three points, courtesy of a scrappy 88th minute winner from young substitute Danny Haynes.

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That goal could easily have been ruled out for handball, but Worthington refused to talk up a bad-luck story after the game and accepted his team had been beaten by a far better side on the day.

“It's a very disappointing result but they deserved to win without a shadow of a doubt,” he admitted. “If we had come out of that game with a point we would have been lucky, to be fair.

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“I have heard various people talking about handball but I am not looking for excuses. If you had played well and lost the game as a result of something like that then fair enough, but I don't think we have got any right to make too much of it.

“Ipswich started the game much brighter and passed the ball much better. They picked up on all the second balls and if you allow teams to do that then you are always asking for trouble. The same applies if you don't pass and retain the ball.

“I was looking a big start, a big performance and I didn't get it.

“I watch us in training and we pass the ball well and work hard. When he come out into the big stadium some players seem to be freezing a little bit and that's something which must change.”

This was undoubtedly a derby day to forget for Norwich City and their supporters but Worthington did manage to find the smallest of silver linings to cling on to in the shape of the performances of three men making their full debuts for the Canaries.

New signing Robert Earnshaw, who could eventually cost City £3.5m, was clearly not firing on all cylinders but worked hard for the side and had one or two bright moments while loan pair Jonatan Johansson and Zesh Rehman both came out of the game with their reputations enhanced. Johansson scored an excellent goal to put his new side in front, before hitting the woodwork after the break, while Rehman was solid at the back and also went close to marking his first appearance with a goal.

Worthington wasn't throwing about the praise after the game - but was clearly satisfied with what he had seen from the deadline day arrivals.

“Rob showed glimpses of what he is all about,” he said. “That's when he have kept the ball and knocked one down the side or into feet. We have got to do that that more often.

“Like Rob, Jonatan hasn't played too much first team football recently but I thought he worked very hard and scored a good goal.

“As for Zesh, I thought he was outstanding at the back.”

Worthington went on to reveal that his decision to leave Darren Huckerby on the bench until half-time had been tactical - while his decision to leave Peter Thorne and Simon Charlton out of the squad altogether had been forced on him.

“Darren was fine,” he said. “I just wanted to give him a little breather and change things around a little bit to try and get the win. At half-time we changed the midfield. It was a case of being positive and trying to go on and win the game.

“As for Thorne and Charlton they were sick over night and weren't available.”

City lost club captain Craig Fleming with a hip injury during the second half of yesterday's game and Worthington will be hoping he shrugs off the knock in time for City's next game at Hull on Saturday afternoon.

“Craig was hurt in the challenge he got booked for,” he said. “So we'll assess him over the next day or so and see where he is at.”

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