Worthy - A day of 'pure passion'
CHRIS WISE Nigel Worthington reflected on the emotional celebration that followed his side's dramatic late winner against Stoke on Saturday and commented: “It was passion, pure passion."
Andy Hughes paid tribute to Norwich City's loyal band of travelling supporters after giving them something to smile about at the weekend.
The all-action midfielder hasn't always been the apple of their eye - but he was a hero on Saturday as he helped the Canaries to a morale-boosting 2-2 draw against high-flying Leeds United.
Hughes' well-taken goal, only his second since joining the club from Reading during the summer, put the visitors back on level terms at Elland Road after a low-key first-half performance - and the player's delight was there for all to see as he celebrated his magic moment in front of the 1800 fans who had made the long trip north.
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Things soon got even better for those long-suffering supporters as Paul McVeigh fired City in front, and although Eddie Lewis' 90th-minute free-kick took some of the shine off the occasion it was still a result to savour after the dismal no-show at Crystal Palace just two weeks earlier.
Hughes was happy to have played a part in lifting the mood, and is now looking for more of the same in Norwich's next match against Leeds' promotion rivals Sheffield United at Carrow Road on Saturday.
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"This is a little step in the right direction but we know we have got to play better on a consistent basis - and repay the fans for their loyalty," he said.
"I thought our away support was unbelievable today, real top drawer. I don't think we have given them too much to cheer about this season so when my goal went in it was great to go over and celebrate with them. If you can't enjoy your goals with your fans then there is something wrong.
"It was an excellent ball in from Simon Charlton and as soon as I hit it I knew it was on target. What happened after that I'm not too sure.
"I think the ball hit one of their defenders and spun in off the post. But it went in, that's all that matters, and it was a special moment for me for a number of reasons. One of my best pals at Reading, Steve Sidwell, celebrated the arrival of a baby on Friday so I dedicate that one to him, and to all the fans who came up to Leeds to support us.
"They deserve this sort of performance every week and now we have got to make sure we maintain these sort of standards against Sheffield United. That's a massive game and I am looking forward to it already."
City had a clear game plan at the weekend, with manager Nigel Worthington bringing in an extra midfielder at the expense of Robert Earnshaw to counteract the attacking threat of a side who had won six home league games in a row before the weekend.
Hughes was glad to have a little more company in the shape of equally combative Charlton, and felt the tactics had worked a treat.
"I was pleased with the way it went for me today," he said. "We changed the system and I was playing just behind Leon McKenzie, which is a position I like.
"The manager set his stall out and got it right. We had to change the way we play to come here and it worked. That's credit to the manager, staff and the players. I think everyone worked very hard and I'm delighted we got a positive result.
"We set our stall out in the first half and it went pretty well, although we did give a sloppy goal away. That was disappointing because they weren't really doing anything.
"In the second half we changed things around a little bit, pushed on and we managed to get the goals.
"I thought we dominated the game and played all the best stuff. We deserved a win and the fact that we didn't get it is the only sour note. Apart from that we are all really happy.
"Their equaliser was obviously disappointing, coming so late in the game. When you are near the top of the league things tend to go for you like that. I don't think it was a free-kick, but that's football. We are just pleased to have put in a vastly improved performance from the Palace game. That was the most important thing. The manager explained before the game that we had to give the paying public better value for money and we did that."