Norwich City are worth more than a point
When you’re trailing by one goal with only a few seconds of normal time remaining, it’s pretty much a cast-iron guarantee that a late equaliser is the cue for wild and noisy celebrations.
And it’s safe to say that the scenes that greeted the impressive Russell Martin’s close-range finish when he fired the ball into the roof of Tom Heaton’s net certainly fell into the above category.
The thing is, a share of the spoils was the very least the Canaries deserved on Saturday.
From an entertainment perspective it was a cracking game of football, and Norwich’s performance was impressive in so many aspects.
True, City will be kicking themselves for making an uncharacteristically slow start to the game and allowing Cardiff to open the scoring after just seven minutes, courtesy of Jon Parkin’s powerful half-volley.
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And they will be a tad frustrated that so much of their promising attacking play was thwarted on the edge of Cardiff’s penalty area by any one or more of the nine outfield Cardiff players that were regularly deployed behind the ball.
But it would be wrong to focus on anything but the positives from this display, because after their shock FA Cup exit a week earlier, City certainly looked back to their very best on Saturday and did virtually everything that we could ask of them.
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Similar to New Year’s Day when league leaders Queens Park Rangers visited Carrow Road, Norwich were very positive and they were good enough to dominate the game against another of the division’s automatic promotion candidates.
City enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, they controlled the middle of the park and they regularly had their opponents pinned back deep into their own half and struggling to escape.
The team also produced some excellent passing moves that led to a lot of decent goalscoring chances being created.
With the likes of Michael Chopra, Peter Whittingham and Craig Bellamy in their side, Cardiff were always going to pose a threat on the counter-attack. And when they did manage to break up City’s attacks and move the ball forward quickly, the visitors caused a few nervy moments for most of the supporters in another packed house. But the longer the game progressed, the number of times the Bluebirds managed to do so became fewer.
City were commendably patient, which can’t have been easy considering the number of times they came close to dragging themselves back on level terms. Time after time, City knocked on the door, and time and time again players in blue shirts literally threw their bodies in front of the ball to deny them an equaliser.
But, as we have come to expect from this City side, the thought of throwing the towel in just doesn’t enter their heads. They possess an incredible winning mentality and the players keep going to the very end, an admirable quality that has already proved fruitful on many occasions this season.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – RUSSELL MARTIN: David Fox and Leon Barnett were excellent on Saturday, and it is hard to disagree with the sponsors’ choice of Wes Hoolahan for man of the match given that he covered so much ground and once again proved to be City’s most dangerous attacking player. But all things considered, it’s the full-back who just nicks it for me. Martin has simply got better and better since he arrived at Carrow Road from Peterborough, and he is now delivering consistently impressive performances, to the point where he is one of the best defenders in the Championship. Not only did he score another crucial goal, he also kept Craig Bellamy quiet for the second time this season. Not too many defenders can make that claim.