Norwich City's comeback kings do job again
David Cuffley Huddersfield Town 1, Norwich City 3: When Norwich City's new kit comes into regular use, it may just be that one shirt of a slightly different design will be tucked to one side for special occasions.
Huddersfield Town 1, Norwich City 3
When Norwich City's new kit comes into regular use, it may just be that one shirt of a slightly different design will be tucked to one side for special occasions.
Instead of the conventional yellow jersey with sponsors' logo and badge on the front, and name and number on the back, all that will be needed on the chest is a big red S in an upturned triangle - though perhaps the tracksuit top will be replaced by a cape.
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The only difficulty is that the manager may have to stop his players squabbling over whose turn it is to play Supersub.
Stephen Elliott became the sixth different City player this season to step off the bench and score a vital goal - or in his case, two - when his late double gave the League One leaders victory in another dramatic fightback and in the process ended Huddersfield Town's unbeaten home record.
- 1 MATCHDAY RECAP: Canaries beaten by Barnsley in FA Cup
- 2 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Barnsley
- 3 Farke's injury fears for Hugill after Barnsley FA Cup loss
- 4 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 1-0 Barnsley defeat
- 5 STARTING XIs: Hernandez starts as City make five changes for FA Cup tie
- 6 Energetic Barnsley dump disjointed Norwich side out of the FA Cup
- 7 Norwich City transfer rumours: Swindon hoping to sign Omotoye on loan
- 8 Norwich City transfer rumours: Canaries interested in Luton midfielder
- 9 'Concentrate on the league klaxon' - City fans express disappointment at FA Cup exit
- 10 Rupp set for FA Cup recall
In all, a dozen of the Canaries' goals this season have been scored by substitutes, all but one of them in league matches, and Elliott's timely party piece came little more than a fortnight after Oli Johnson had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with two late goals against Southend at Carrow Road.
City have made a habit of battling back from a goal down to win - they have done so five times in the past nine league games - and while manager Paul Lambert has consistently played down his own contribution to their success, there is enough evidence that changes he has made from the touchline have contributed to nearly all those victories.
Their refusal to accept defeat is one of the reasons why Norwich appear 99 per cent certain to be playing Championship football next season, for their latest stirring comeback - their 10th away win of the season - has left them seven points clear of second-placed Leeds, and 12 ahead of third-placed Charlton with 10 games to go.
Not that Lambert's team looked very likely to inflict the Terriers' home defeat in the early stages of Saturday's contest. Falling behind after little more than two minutes, from the first corner of the match, City looked rattled and took at least half an hour to find their feet.
The goal came when an inswinging flag-kick by Anthony Pilkington was headed home unchallenged by defender Neal Trotman at the near post to stun the Canaries and their huge away following.
Both wingers looked dangerous in the opening stages and Gary Roberts cut inside Michael Rose from the right touchline before striking a left-foot shot that goalkeeper Fraser Forster smothered, diving to his left.
Lee Novak wasted the chance to make it 2-0 when he worked his way through a hesistant defence before firing wide.
The opening half-hour was one-way traffic as Forster punched away a long-range effort by Heffernan, then Gary Doherty made a desperate clearance from Novak's attempted cross. With 33 minutes gone, Trotman threatened a second goal with a volley that struck Darel Russell's head and flew wide.
City, however, flickered into life and missed one good opportunity to equalise before the break when skipper Grant Holt headed across goal from Simon Lappin's cross.
But the Canaries had weathered the storm, reached half-time with no further damage and looked a different side after the interval.
Forster made a fine save two minutes after the restart as Novak's first-time shot from a quickly-taken free-kick almost flew past him at the near post. At the other end, Lappin produced City's first shot on target after 48 minutes with a volley, straight at Smithies.
The introduction of Elliott for Chris Martin, after 62 minutes, eventually proved decisive, though the whole team had managed to raise their game in the second period.
Russell Martin, the outstanding Michael Nelson and Doherty were all found in the opposing goalmouth at times as City pressed for an equaliser, which finally came after 69 minutes - a beautifully-worked goal and Holt's 27th of the season in all competitions.
Korey Smith found Rose on the left with a crossfield ball and the full-back's excellent pass forward reached Hoolahan, who delivered the perfect cross for Holt to sidefoot home.
With 74 minutes gone, the transformation was almost complete as Elliott made it 2-1 with his first goal for the club.
Hoolahan played the key through-ball to Holt, who showed great strength on the right to get to the byline and pull back the perfect centre for Elliott to tuck home. But there were still one or two anxious moments before Elliott made the game safe.
Forster tipped over a dangerous effort from substitute Theo Robinson, Pilkington produced an even better effort with a curling right-foot shot that Forster did well to keep out, diving to his left, and then a careless backpass by Rose almost handed Huddersfield the equaliser. Rose's pass went straight to Novak, but with Forster racing out, the 'keeper managed to guide the striker into less dangerous territory and, with defenders scrambling back to cover, Rose atoned by cutting out Novak's attempted cross.
There were just over five minutes remaining when Elliott wrapped up the points with his second goal, Holt again having a hand in it. Holt relayed Rose's pass into the path of Lappin and the midfielder's cross was perfect for Elliott to finish coolly.
City's very vocal 3,000 followers celebrated as if promotion was now guaranteed - and it will take a collapse of horrible proportions to deny their team a swift return to the Championship now.