Norwich City goalkeeper Ruddy hits top form
Goalkeeper John Ruddy admitted Norwich City’s Championship fate could be decided on fine margins after his stoppage-time heroics clinched a valuable point at Leeds.
Ruddy needed every inch of his imposing frame to claw out Billy Paynter’s close range effort in a frenetic finale at Elland Road.
City’s keeper and his overworked defence managed to stand firm to repel a furious late onslaught from Leeds after Davide Somma’s clinical volley had brought Simon Grayson’s men back on level terms at 2-2 in a breathless second period.
Ruddy said: “I was a little bit nervous watching it go past the post. I think Somma flicked it onto Paynter who didn’t quite catch it as he would have liked and I managed to just get a thumb to it in the end and it bounced around the post, so I was absolutely delighted with that. They still had a corner after that which produced a bit of a scramble so you’re always nervous until the final whistle, but I have to give a special mention to Zak (Whitbread, pictured).
“He made a clearance in the second half from under the bar and I just don’t know how. That was as big as my save. Absolutely fantastic for him. We were looking good for the win but the lad has come on and with his first touch produced a great strike. That could go over the stand, so he has done well. The most important thing was we didn’t get beaten and we’ve got to march on from here.”
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Ruddy felt Henri Lansbury’s equaliser in first-half stoppage time was a huge psychological shift after Norwich had been pummelled by the hosts.
He said: “We didn’t have that many chances so to go in level gave us a massive boost. That is what we are all about. You have to take them when they come along because I think we had been restricted to a couple of long range ones from Foxy (David Fox). It meant we could go in at half-time level when maybe we weren’t playing as progressively as we would have liked – but you have to got to frustrate teams like Leeds. That was the gameplan, to be patient, but they didn’t let us do that for the first 20 minutes and you must give them credit.”
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Ruddy’s post and bar were rattled in a rapier early thrust by City’s promotion rivals.
He said: “I think we have to be happy with a point. It’s a very tough place to come to, everyone knows that. We didn’t start too well and they did.
“If they don’t start well with this crowd they will get on their backs. They got the early goal and that put us one the back foot. We showed great character to come back and not get beaten.
“They were really gung ho and it was hard to stamp our mark on the game, but we stood strong.”
City’s custodian is now urging his team-mates to follow up Saturday’s hard-fought draw with a maximum haul this week against two more Yorkshire sides, Doncaster and Barnsley.
He said: “We have proved throughout the whole season that we deserve to be up there. We owe Doncaster from the game at their place and Barnsley played well at our place as well so it will be even tougher up there, but if we go with the right attitude we can continue this run.”