Worthy seeks home comforts

CHRIS WISE Nigel Worthington wants his under-fire side to go out and prove a point this week after finally giving their frustrated fans something to smile about.


Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington wants his under-fire side to go out and prove a point this week after finally giving their frustrated fans something to smile about.

The Canaries bounced back from a depressing run of three consecutive defeats at the weekend when they came away from Hull's KC Stadium with a hard-earned point courtesy of a late own goal from winger Stuart Elliott.

The match may have been a distinctly lacklustre affair, with the visitors managing just one effort on target all afternoon. But Worthington's men never let their heads drop and were rewarded for their efforts in the 87th minute when the Northern Ireland international diverted a loose ball into his own net with Norwich new-boy Robert Earnshaw in close attendance.

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That goal went down well with the 2000-strong travelling amry behind the goal, but they had been quick to voice their disapproval earlier in the game when the Canaries were struggling to find their way past a determined Hull rearguard. And the City boss is well aware that the fans will be expecting a lot more from their team over the next six days, with successive home games against Brighton and Derby coming up.

“There is a lot to build on from today's performance,” said Worthington, who once again had to endure calls for his resignation during the game. “We have now got two home games to look forward to and we have got to go into them at full throttle. We have got to play as well as we did today, but with a little more penetration.

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“If we do that we will score goals because we have got a little bit of everything when we move forward - space, quick feet, strength - and if we can get better service in there, and keep working hard, then the results will come.”

Worthington was the first to admit that his side had struggled in front of goal against a Hull side who appeared determined to sit back on their lead after moving in front midway through the first half through defender Leon Cort.

But he insisted he was well satisfied with their overall display and reckoned a draw was the very least they deserved from the game.

“It was a good point, a deserved point,” he said. “I certainly think it would have been an injustice had we lost.

“To be honest I don't mind who gets credited with the goal. It has got us a very good point and on the day we could have had a couple of penalty decisions to help us on our way to all three.

“I thought the response to last week, and the performance overall, was excellent. The players have worked hard and passed the ball very well. In fact I think it's quite a while since we passed it as well as that.

“We didn't let the opposition dictate to us at all and worked really hard all afternoon. I was pleased with the way we kept going right until the end. That's so important.

“Any successful team has got to do the ugly side of the game well. We have got a saying here that you have got to go through the pain to get the pleasure. When you compete hard that's the pain - and very often what comes with that is good results.

“The only thing we didn't do as well as we should was the penetration in and around their penalty area. We didn't over-create, we know that. But that will come if we continue to work hard and stay patient.

“It was a very positive line-up and we are like that nine times out of 10.”

Saturday's draw left the Canaries a massive 13 points adrift of sixth place Crystal Palace, who have a game on hand. That's a daunting gap to make up over the course of just 13 games but Worthington refused to throw in the towel when asked about the play-offs.

"We've got to get as many points as possible and then we'll see where we are," he said. "We'll chase every point and never, ever give up.”

Asked about the calls for him to go during the game he added: “The only thing I can do is give 100pc to my job - and I do that every day. All I can say is that I was delighted with the application of the players today.”

Worthington will be keeping his fingers crossed on the fitness of key midfielder Youssef Safri as he prepares for tomorrow night's home clash against relegation-haunted Brighton.

The Moroccan international limped off during the closing stages of Saturday's game after a painful collision and is clearly a doubt for the midweek fixture.

“He took a bang on the knee,” explained the City boss. “He has got some ice on it now and we'll just have to see how it settles down over the next few days.”

On the plus side Leon McKenzie made his return from injury after missing seven matches with an ankle problem and Worthington was impressed with his late run out.

“It was good to see Leon back, but we have got to be very careful with him because he has not played much football this season,” he said. “He has been training hard - but training and playing games are two different things. He had 20 minutes and I'm delighted with what he gave us. He was neat and tidy with the ball and helped in the final third.”

Hull may have thrown away a chance of a second successive victory but manager Peter Taylor remained upbeat after the game.

"My thoughts are that I'm delighted with a point,” he said. “We had a nervous start but we did well in the first half and scored a good set-piece.

"Norwich didn't create a great deal and things didn't change that much in the second half.

"I thought we were going to hold on but I would have taken a point before the game.”

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