Spirited Norwich City refuse to be intimidated
In terms of how you wanted the Canaries to approach last night’s game at Millwall, simply continuing where they left off against Burnley at Carrow Road on Saturday would have been ideal.
At the weekend, for the second time in as many games, City found themselves trailing by a couple goals, and similar to the Cardiff game a week earlier, they demonstrated that they have the stomach for a fight and the determination to try to turn adversity into success.
However, as would have no doubt been mentioned on countless occasions in no uncertain terms in the dressing room, you can’t afford to hand teams a two-goal lead at this level and expect to end the game with smiles on your faces.
So a positive start was essential last night, particularly at a place like Millwall. And pleasingly that’s what we got.
But City not only ensured that they were more difficult to break down than of late and weren’t faced with another proverbial mountain to climb, they also stood toe-to-toe with their opposite numbers on the frequent occasions when things got a little heated and niggly at The Den, in the manner it usually does.
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If a challenge was there to be contested, it was contested with ample force. And if someone in a yellow shirt needed a bit of back-up from one his team-mates, he could be sure there would be plenty of willing volunteers. And that’s what you have to do at places like Millwall. If you don’t show them that you’re prepared to stand up to them, you tend to get bullied.
In fairness, the home side probably shaded the first half, as they started and finished it strongly and created a couple of decent opportunities to get shots on target.
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But City were undoubtedly the dominant team after the break.
As the game started to open up, Norwich began to find their rhythm and they looked particularly threatening when they broke up play and were able to move forward quickly on the counter-attack.
Eventually City scored with a shot that can only be described as an absolute beauty from the impressive David Fox.
Matt Gill’s Rory Delap-style throw-in was only partially cleared by a no doubt surprised Millwall defence, and Fox duly despatched the loose ball in to the roof of the net with some force.
Given the way City have ground out late goals and results on more than a few occasions this season, it was likely the tables would be turned on them sooner rather than later. But that still didn’t lesson the sickening feeling everybody from Norfolk would have felt when John Marquis bundled the ball over the line with virtually the last kick of the game.
You can be sure that not many teams will visit The Den and refuse to take any nonsense from the home side and look after themselves the way City did last night.
And although the one point they gained won’t lessen the pain over the two that ultimately slipped through their fingers in such agonising fashion, all things considered, City can hold their heads high for their night’s work.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – LEON BARNETT: John Ruddy delivered a polished performance between the posts, Elliott Ward was as safe and reliable as he usually is, and, apart from his superb goal, David Fox caught the eye last night by producing a strong and solid display at the heart of the Canaries’ midfield. Fox put his foot in when it was needed, and his use of the ball was economical and accurate on most occasions. But Barnett was the outstanding player for my money. He was so commanding in the air as well as on the ground that I can hardly recall an instance of him being beaten. He has been magnificent for the Canaries so far this season.