City boss Chis Hughton summed up the mood of the whole Canary Nation when he judged yesterday’s 2-1 home success over Everton as ‘a big win’ for all concerned.
Without three points to their name since the middle of December and three, successive draws leaving City hovering all too close to the relegation pack, this weekend’s success propelled Norwich to within sight of the finishing line – probably now no more than a couple of wins and two draws away.
More significant still was the manner of the success – that at 1-0 down with a little less than ten minutes of game and added-on time left, City could dig as deep into their mental and physical reserves and prise the win out of an Everton side not famed for their generosity.
Kei Kamara’s glorious, 84th minute header coupled to Grant Holt’s stabbed winner in the fourth minute of added-on time made it one of those special Carrow Road afternoons as Norwich found themselves eight points clear of the drop zone with the likes of Reading, QPR and Aston Villa all failing to pick up a point.
As afternoons go, it couldn’t have been much sweeter for the Canary chief – he would, however, have settled for just the point at the start of injury time.
“As a manager, at 1-1 you would have settled for that, but the lads were determined to do one better,” Hughton told the BBC afterwards, reckoning without a trademark, last-gasp finish from his skipper.
Evidence that the ‘Never say die!’ attitude that became the hallmark of the Lambert years as survived the change in managerial regime.
It would have been a super-optimist, supporter-wise who would have predicted Norwich would have been as well-placed now to avoid the drop – that said, Hughton has never been a mug of a manager. His track record at both Newcastle and Birmingham suggested as much.
And whilst Luciano Becchio may yet to have set the world alight, his fellow transfer window signing Kamara has already won the hearts of the Norfolk faithful with his effervescent performances on and off the pitch.
“The spirit has never been lacking – the spirit has been there all season,” said Hughton. “But this in an incredibly tough league, the Barclays Premier League, to get points – particularly wins.
“And if I look at the way we play, we tend to play a tighter game and it is difficult to get the wins that you want,” he added, with Kamara offering a more ‘open’ option style-wise.
For Holt to add the winner, however, was just the icing on the cake.
“To get the winner right at the end does an awful lot for the feel and the spirit of the group,” said the manager, with Holt’s own delight etched right across his face as Carrow Road erupted in both relief and delight at the most vital of winners.
As for Kamara, he looks just the part as he became the first player from Sierra Leone to score in the English Premier League. And he did it in super style with a magnificent, athletic leap to meet Robert Snodgrass’ inviting corner.
“That’s the reason we brought him in – we know what he can give us,” Hughton said of his MLS loan signing.
“He gives us something different from what we’ve got; we took Luciano (Becchio) off who I thought worked incredibly hard for the team, but Kai is that little bit different.
“He is good in the air and has that little bit of pace. We all know that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But fortunately for us today, it had the impact that we wanted it to have.”