Canary striker Jamie Cureton couldn't hide his disappointment at this weekend's events as the Canaries once again managed to wrest defeat from the jaws of a probable comfortable victory.
“It is frustrating,” said the 32-year-old striker, whose perfect run of two goals per home game came to an abrupt halt on Saturday in the midst of that 2-1 defeat by Cardiff City.
“We felt that we were in control of the game – and up until they scored, we thought we were going to run out and win the game comfortably. But it all changed on their goal.”
A free, far post run from newly-arrived substitute Peter Whittingham and a bundled home finish turned the contest on its head as the Canaries proved again that when it comes to brittleness they can match anyone in this division.
To add to the frustration, the first 45 minutes was probably the best City have played thus far this season – certainly against opposition of a Championship standard.
“Once they got the goal, we started to play how we have been playing; lost our sense in the game and our foothold and we ended up giving away a sloppy goal at the end to lose it,” said Cureton, making a welcome return to the fray after missing the midweek trip to Rochdale with a slight knock.
He could have marked his return with a goal as the Canaries dominated the first-half – only for youngster Roger Johnson to slam the door in his face before going on to pocket the winner. At 2-0 even Norwich's powers of collapse would have been sorely tested.
“I half slipped and lost the opportunity a bit, but he made a great challenge in the end,” said the City striker.
“But even then you think that we're in control. We've done well first-half; come out second-half and you still felt that we were comfortable and in control of the game. And it swung on their goal.
“We did it against Southampton a couple of weeks ago. That goal makes you start to believe a bit but before that I thought they thought the game was sort of going away from them.”
It is, unfortunately, one of those weeks without a mid-week game – an ideal and early opportunity for everyone to right a few wrongs and get the show back on the road and moving again after the away defeat at Hull and this latest home reverse.
Given the fact that no-one has enjoyed the perfect start to the new season, Norwich can swiftly motor back up into the top half of the table. But they need to regain some momentum with those awkward, back-to-back away trips to Charlton Athletic and Wolves looming after the home clash with Crystal Palace on September 15.
“When we came in at half-time, we felt it was the best 45 minutes that we've had; we felt in total control of the game. And felt, right, if we go out and do pretty much the same then we should get the result.
“But it's two poor goals again,” said Cureton. “And that seems to be the case at the moment – teams aren't carving us apart. We just seem to be giving away silly little goals.
“We've obviously got to put that right as a team. And now we've got two weeks until the next game – and that's a long time to wait.”
And a long time to ponder the what-should-have-beens.
“We said that beforehand – that with the break it's important to go into it with a win because it's somethig else to build on,” said Cureton afterwards.
“But now obviously everyone's a bit depressed and you want to get the next game as quickly as possible.
“But, like I say, we've got to wait awhile. Just put the hard work in on the training ground and with another home game, we've got to put it right.”
The players and manager only emerged after a 40-minute discussion in the dressing room. There was, of course, all too much to discuss.
“We were in there for a while,” admitted Cureton. “Obviously having a chat and the manager letting us know his feelings on it. Not so much ranting and raving – just the manager putting his thoughts across that he didn't think it was good enough.
“And we're disappointed. We know we should be playing better and should be winning games. We have to put it right – it's down to us.
“We'll take the stick. We've got to be big enough to accept that and, like I say, next game put it right. We're grown men; we've got to accept that – we're at a big club that should be pushing at the top end of the table and at the moment we're not producing the goods.”
To his credit, stand-in skipper Dion Dublin held his hand up for Johnson's winner as he failed to pick up the Cardiff defender from a corner. But as Cureton admits, it is cutting out the mistakes in the first place that is the key.
In fairness to Dublin, he was still the overwhelming choice for Norwich's man of the match after comfortably dealing with all that Messrs Fowler and Hasselbaink could throw at him in that one-sided first-half.
Twice Norwich had cause to bemoan their luck with officialdom – Dublin having a big, headed goal ruled out for, presumeably, clambering on the back of Glenn Loovens, while after the break the Cardiff centre-half would charge down a Darel Russell shot with his arms flailing either side.
The TV replays suggested he was inside; Loovens did his best to ensure that he tumbled dramatically outside the box clutching his face as he went.
“He's definitely handled it and I thought he was very close to the edge of the box,” said Cureton. “The boys who were closer felt it was. But the ref makes the decision.
“And the linesman's that side as well so someone's got to make a decision if it is.
“But we can't honestly say that that is what has cost us – it's just the back end of the second-half which we haven't performed in.”
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