Norwich City players can be proud - Russell Martin

AUDIO: Russell Martin says the Canaries can be proud of their efforts in defeat at new Championship leaders Cardiff City.

City conceded two sloppy goals in the early stages, but were given a route back into the game when the recalled Wes Hoolahan halved Cardiff’s lead with a brave diving header.

But just three minutes later came what Martin believes was the “killer” decision, as Oxfordshire referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot after deciding that Elliott Ward had handled a defensive header from Leon Barnett.

Ward and his team-mates insisted it was ball to hand, and even Cardiff boss Dave Jones admitted luck was on their side, with Peter Whittingham slotting home from the spot.

City then dominated long periods of the first half, but while the penalty proved crucial, Martin believes there was plenty to bring home from south Wales.

“I think the first 10 minutes, no doubt about it, has killed us, the way we started,” said the City left-back.

“You can’t start like that, giving teams a two-goal lead, but I think after that we had them penned in their own half, for the majority of the half and we really thought there were goals for us.

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“We have had some good chances, but it hasn’t quite come off for us, but I think after Wes’ goal we really believed. But the penalty he has given is so harsh – it just hit Wardy, he didn’t know anything about it.

“The referee said it was a clear handball, but even after that we kept plugging away and we still had chances.

“It was always going to be a bit more open after that because we needed to chase the game, but we contained them well in the second half.

“We came in at half-time and we really had the belief that we could get something out of the game.”

Martin admitted Jay Bothroyd’s opening goal could have been avoided, given that the hosts had already tried a similar corner routine minutes earlier.

“We should have defended the corner a lot better, but the belief we have got is that we feel if we go 1-0 down we go up the other end and get one back,” he said.

“That’s the way we play. We won’t change that, maybe we should have taken stock, we are away to a team flying high in Cardiff, but it’s one of those things.

“It didn’t happen and they have scored the second, but after that we have given a great account of ourselves and the lads can be proud of digging in, because teams will come here and will totally capitulate.

“Being 2-0 down they will totally go and other teams might have got done by four or five.

“But we didn’t, we stuck at it and I think in the end 3-1 is harsh on us.”