Russell Martin: 'It was never a penalty'
Michael Bailey Russell Martin believes a 1-1 draw was the least Norwich City deserved on Saturday - especially considering Paul Anderson's stumble that earned Nottingham Forest their opening goal from the penalty spot.
Russell Martin believes a 1-1 draw was the least Norwich City deserved on Saturday - especially considering Paul Anderson's stumble that earned Nottingham Forest their opening goal from the penalty spot.
The City right-back was closest as Anderson went down in the area - and duly looked up expecting the Forest winger to be booked for diving; instead referee Scott Mathieson pointed to the spot, having missed a far more convincing penalty claim from the home side minutes before.
Dexter Blackstock tucked the ball home from 12 yards on 35 minutes, but City were level through Andrew Crofts seven minutes later to make it one defeat from their opening four matches on their Championship return - no more than the Canaries' impressive display deserved against a side heavily tipped for promotion to the Premier League come May.
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“We're absolutely delighted with the performance,” said the 24-year-old. “We're disappointed by their goal because, for me - well for the whole team - it's never a penalty.
“There was a decision that the referee made a couple of minutes before where maybe they could've had a penalty, but for me the one he has actually given is disappointing because the boy has just touched it and dived.
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“I'm nowhere near him and he's dived into me, so that's really disappointing. But the way we've come back is magnificent and shows the character and strength we have got in the squad, because a lot of teams could have capitulated at that point, 1-0 down at a place like this.
“Our fans were brilliant again and helped to carry us through, and in the end I think we should have won the game.
“Honestly, I thought he was booking him for diving at first. He blew up and I was just about to applaud him, and then I realised he was pointing to the penalty spot and I just couldn't believe it.
“I think if he sees the decision, the referee, he will be disappointed with it. The lad has conned him a bit for the penalty, but we deserved at least a point today and in the end we got it, so it's neither here nor there. It's happened. I'm disappointed with the decision and I'm disappointed at the lad going over, but it's one of those things and we move on.”
Wales midfielder Crofts' equaliser was his second goal since joining from Brighton in the summer - not a goal that will win any style points, but certainly deserved after his and City's heartening show as they continue to adjust well to life back in the Championship.
“He's lobbed it and the keeper's tried to palm it over and it's gone in, so it's a great finish,” said Martin. “He can do it all really, he can defend and get forward, and he's got a great engine. I knew he would be a good signing for the club, I've known him for a while and he's proven that.
“But to be honest you can't praise anyone individually today. I think everyone was on it, on the front foot, and we were brilliant. In the end we've come away from a place like this, they were so close to getting promoted to the Premier League last season, and we've come away disappointed not to win.
“So that tells you how far we've come in a short space of time.”
In contrast to the Canaries, Forest remain winless this season - but Martin is still expecting Billy Davies' side to come good, and Norwich's point at the City Ground to look a good one come the end of the season.
“They haven't started brilliantly but they will be up there come the end of the season,” he added.