Rusty: Omens look good
David Cuffley Midfielder Darel Russell is banking on Norwich City's penchant for top opposition bringing the best out of them in their final home match of the season.
Midfielder Darel Russell is banking on Norwich City's penchant for top opposition bringing the best out of them in their final home match of the season.
Reading, fourth in the Championship table and guaranteed a promotion play-off place, visit Carrow Road for Monday's televised match (7.45pm) - a game the Canaries must win to stand a realistic chance of avoiding relegation.
But Bryan Gunn's men can take comfort from the fact that none of the other sides in the top six have won at Norwich this season. Champions Wolves, Sheffield United and Cardiff were beaten, while Birmingham and Burnley were held to draws.
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“Our results against those sides have been great and let's hope that's a good omen for us,” said Russell.
“We've done very well in our night games, too, and being a night game we've got a little bit of extra rest. Let's hope everything works right for us and as it's one of those top six sides we get the right result - and hope other things go our way.”
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Events certainly favoured third-from-bottom City at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday night when Barnsley, the team immediately above them in the table, were denied victory by a stoppage-time penalty from Coventry defender Elliott Ward, which earned the Sky Blues a 1-1 draw. Russell was grateful for that late twist.
He said: “I don't usually find myself watching the games when I'm not playing. But on Tuesday night I was glued in front of the TV watching for the Barnsley result and it was almost a Godsend.
“That penalty, I couldn't believe it. I was nervous when I was hearing about the penalty and Ward stepping up to score and Saturday will probably be the same. I will have the TV on watching those results and willing teams along to hopefully get the right results for us. It will be a nerve-racking afternoon and once that afternoon's done we'll go back in on Sunday and get ourselves prepared for Monday's game.
“It's given us a chance. If Barnsley had won it would have been terrible for us but it's given us hope and a chance and we just have to take it on now.
“We know what we have to do and we have to hope something happens on that front as well.”
City were unfortunate to lose 2-0 at Reading in December, a game played in appalling weather with 28-year-old Russell used as an emergency striker.
“I think we played very well in that game in difficult conditions,” he said. “It wasn't ideal with me playing up front. It was a difficult part of the season. I hope on Monday we can play a bit more of a balanced side with people in the right positions and give our all to try to get the right result.
“But I don't think anyone from Reading will be taking their foot off the pedal. They want to be going into this period in form and want to be on a high, so it will be a difficult game - but we know what we need to do for ourselves.”