Terri Westgate: City and Jamal have provided some precious hope... what more can we ask for?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
We arrived at Carrow Road on a cold, rain soaked Friday evening full of nerves, as yet another fight at the last chance saloon approached.
With the ever decreasing number of games to play, the probability of avoiding relegation reduces. Every match carries a weight of importance. The term "must win" bandied about mercilessly.
Our last home visit was a brilliant display, but ultimately pointless result against Liverpool.
This was followed by a disappointing and dispiriting loss in Wolverhampton. Now it was time to face the third-placed Foxes and restore some pride.
Hope is a dangerous emotion. It can set you up for heartbreak, but without it many things in life would feel desolate.
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With Norwich rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, if fans didn't have hope of entertainment and fighting for survival, we'd be a morose bunch right now.
As the Carrow Road carpet of wet grass sparkled under the floodlights, the drizzly air was buzzing with edgy expectation. Another evening of drama awaited, and hope of that much needed win.
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- 3 PROMOTION LIVE: Cherries and red card ruin City's party
- 4 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 3-1 Bournemouth defeat
- 5 City players and fans celebrate promotion on social media
- 6 Farke savours sweet Premier League promotion after rollercoaster ride
- 7 'Amazing' - Buendia hails City's special promotion achievement
- 8 WATCH: Delighted Delia Smith leads Canaries fans in Emi Buendia sing song
- 9 Norwich City fans gather at Carrow Road to celebrate promotion
- 10 Paddy Davitt verdict: I'll have a P please City
The team news broke, and the return of Emi Buendia created a wave of relief through the stands. Win or lose, to see our Argentinian football heaven is often worth the price of a ticket. Would this be enough to tip the game in our favour? Then news of Leicester's star striker's omission from the squad; Jamie Vardy had been long overdue a goal but tonight would not be his night.
When the players emerged from the tunnel for kick off, we waved our flags and sung in full voice.
Yet once the football started an anxious crowd stuttered in its support. There was nervous energy both on and off the pitch, but we made it through to half-time with the score goalless.
There was a horrible sense of crushing inevitability when Iheanacho broke through our defence and the ball hit the back of the net. But then up pops our old friend VAR to review a possible handball.
With so many decisions going against us this season, I wasn't expecting a positive outcome. However, the longer it went on, I began to think that maybe at last our luck had changed. Then it was announced. No goal. We had been given a lifeline. The fight was on. And the crowd responded with noise.
For many of us, last season was perfect. Norwich winning the title, Ipswich bottom and relegated. Loads of last minute strikes, Teemu Pukki winning the golden boot, promotion at Carrow Road, and everyone in the squad getting in on the goals. There was just one exception to that last point - despite having a superb season, Jamal Lewis had failed to find the net.
All good things come to those who wait, and in the 70th minute our young left back arrived on the edge of the box and at the end of a Max Aarons cross. He coolly controlled the ball and then swerved a shot around the keeper and into the far corner. A goal worth waiting for.
The next 25 minutes were a blur, and I spent half the time looking at the clock rather the game in play. Desperate for the three points, which were certainly deserved, experience left me anxiously anticipating heartbreak. All I can do in such situations is sing louder, yell to release the tension.
We held on, and at the final whistle there were hugs shared in the stands. A win, a clean sheet and suddenly our home form is looking decent. No one wants to be the best worst team, or the plucky loser, for all the pride that entails. Nothing can replace the joy of winning.
For Norwich to have any chance of staying up we need to win all our remaining home games. We must make Carrow Road a cauldron of colour and noise. We helped win promotion, and now we have a bigger role to play. And thanks Friday's victory and Jamal's goal, we still have some precious hope.