City chief Paul Lambert rolled off a lengthy list of positives after yesterday’s trip to Crystal Palace yielded no goals, but the point Norwich need to nick their way into that second automatic promotion spot.
Skipper Grant Holt came closest to a typical late, late show from the Canaries – only to blaze over from some eight yards out.
Nevertheless, the 0-0 draw against Dougie Freedman’s Eagles was still enough to enable the Norfolk side to leap over Cardiff City into second – albeit that the Bluebirds now have a game in hand on their promotion rivals.
“I’m absolutely delighted that we’re in second,” said Lambert afterwards, with the Yellow and Green Army once again following their heroes in force; City selling out their full, 2,700-strong allocation for the re-arranged trip to South-East London.
They might have missed out on a goal, but the Canaries’ unbeaten run in the league now stretches to seven nPower Championship outings – their last defeat coming in the middle of December and the 2-0 home defeat by Portsmouth.
It is the kind of consistency that promotion-stroke-play-off campaigns are made of; the difference between the two coming on Tuesday night.
Victory over Millwall at Carrow Road would see City hitting that two-point-a-game formula that is the stuff of automatic promotion hopefuls. There was little to suggest that Norwich’s belief and confidence had suffered on the back of a blank outing goals-wise.
Certainly Lambert was happy to be heading home with another hard-earned point for his away-day troubles.
“It’s another unbeaten game; it’s another point – and we’re still undefeated in a long, long while,” said the Canary chief, with leaders QPR also held to a point.
“And listen,” he told BBC Radio Norfolk listeners, “you can’t always play constructive football against a team that’s down there and fighting for their lives.
“And this isn’t an easy place to come, but I’m a great believer in that if you’re not going to win a game, make sure you don’t lose it.”
City certainly accomplished that goal- even if both Wilfried Zaha and Sean Scannell would both test the visitors’ defensive resolve before the final whistle.
“I thought John Ruddy was excellent with some great saves; I thought Leon Barnett was excellent,” said Lambert.
“And, as I said, it’s a point away from home and that point could be pivotal towards the end.”
Which was an interesting use of language; Lambert might have edge one point closer to that magic 50-point safety mark, but it was clear that his sights are now set slightly higher.
One point could make all the difference between the prospect of a trip to Wembley – or, indeed, an automatic ticket to the top flight.
As Norwich know all too well from their own play-off history, one goal can make all the difference at the business end of the season.
A slight thigh strain for Adam Drury saw new-boy Marc Tierney make his Canary debut following his switch from Colchester United.
The manager will check on Drury’s progress today with a view to Tuesday night’s clash with Millwall. On the basis of safety first, Tierney could yet make his first, full start at Carrow Road this week.
“That was Marc’s first game for six weeks so he’s not totally match fit yet, but it got him used to playing with the lads and, hopefully, he does OK,” said Lambert.
Tomorrow, of course, sees the January transfer window close.
The City chief appeared relatively relaxed as to whether or not he managed to snap up one final new face.
He was, you sensed, fairly happy with his current lot – as he should be given their place in this weekend’s nPower Championship; if it ain’t bust, why try to fix it?
Henri Lansbury’s services have been secured till the end of the season; the Gunners starlet returned to his starting plans yesterday. And Elliott Ward was back on the bench – his presence duly keeping both Leon Barnett and Zak Whitbread on their toes.
And, of course, he now has cover for Drury should that thigh niggle prove a problem.
He also had another of his big players edging closer to a first team return – even if Andrew Surman didn’t make this weekend’s trip to Palace.
“I just know that I’ve got a fantastic group of footballers with a great hunger for the game,” said the Canary chief.
“And we’ve got Surman coming back shortly which will be a major, major plus for us so it’s not an over-concern of mine.”