Will and a way for Worthy

CHRIS WISE Nigel Worthington paid tribute to the character of his players after they had scored three times in the final 12 minutes to record an amazing 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Carrow Road.


Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington paid tribute to the character of his players after they had scored three times in the final 12 minutes to record an amazing 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Carrow Road.

The Canaries looked dead and buried as goals either side of half-time from Gareth Ainsworth and Lee Cook put Rangers 2-0 ahead.

The fans started turning on their manager when Cook's shot went in, with chants of "We want Worthy out" ringing around Carrow Road as the visitors took a vice-like grip on proceedings. But City ignored the tense atmosphere to haul themselves back into the match in sensational fashion, with Darren Huckerby pulling one back and Robert Earnshaw then scoring twice in five minutes to complete a remarkable comeback.

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Worthington was delighted with the spirit shown by his players as they overcame a difficult set of circumstances to record a sixth straight home win.

"The reaction of the crowd when we went 2-0 down was all part of football,” said the City boss. “It happens at a lot of grounds now, that's the way society is. You live with it as a manager, a coach and a football player and you have got to be strong.

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"We were calm on the bench, we stayed focused on what we wanted, and the players stayed calm and did their job. It was vital we all did that and we have come through in the end.”

He added: "It was certainly a hard-fought one that's for sure.

"In the first half I thought we passed the ball well and created a few half-chances which we didn't take.

"Then we got hit with one just before the break, which was disappointing, and we then conceded a second soft goal in the second half.

"But from then on the character, resolve and will to do it from the lads was absolutely tremendous.”

Worthington had words of sympathy for midfielder Andy Hughes who was singled out as a scapegoat by fans when the second goal went in. The summer signing from Reading gave away possession to Cook just inside his own half and although his defensive colleagues hardly excelled themselves after that, Hughes was jeered whenever he touched the ball before his substitution prompted a round of applause from his detractors.

"That's just frustration,” he said. "Although you never like to see that happen to one of your players that's the mood of some people at the moment and, as I always say, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

"The best way to answer that sort of thing is by turning in a performance and getting a result.

"In a way it's a great experience for us because we have had a wonderful five years at this football club, with everything going very well, and all of a sudden we have had an indifferent season.

"When that sort of thing happens it makes you strong, resilient and even more determined to do well.

“I think all the players got a little bit nervy but, as I said, it's all part of the game. You have just got to be mentally strong and focus on your football. They all did that and I thought they were tremendous in the second half.”

As for fans' criticism of City's style of play, the manager added: “This game is all about passing and looking after the ball. But as much as you want to keep possession all of the time you can't do that. Who would have thought Manchester United would fail to beat Sunderland the other night? That's the game, it's unpredictable.”

Worthington revealed that Michael Spillane's home debut, which only lasted 45 minutes, had been cut short by a groin strain.

“He felt it at half-time and there was no point in taking a risk, especially as it was his second game he three days,” said the City boss. “He did well today and has shown in his first two games that he is well capable of dealing with the situation.”

Not surprisingly QPR caretaker manager Gary Waddock was struggling to come to terms with the result after the game.

"I still can't quite believe how we managed to lose that one,” he said.

"We were 2-0 up, playing good football and were in total control but then we just went to pieces and threw it all away.

"It's very, very frustrating because I thought we played ever so well in the first 75 minutes and I just couldn't see Norwich getting back into it.

"The players are all bitterly disappointed and, rightly so, because we should certainly have come away from this game with all three points.”

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