Lee Croft's first goal of the season failed to hide his frustration at last night's result as the Canaries became the latest victim of Aidy Boothroyd's Championship killing machine.
Runaway leaders Watford were too big, too strong and too well-organised for a bottom-of-the-table City side that did their best to knock the Hornets out of their stride, only to fall victim to two sucker-punch goals and some powerful counter-attacking football.
Once again, new boss Glenn Roeder witnessed his side end the first-half two goals adrift and while Croft's 64th minute strike offered a brief hope of an Ipswich-like comeback Marlon King's effort three minutes from the end settled the contest.
They had, as befits the runaway leaders, closed the game out with the minimum of fuss and performance.
Unlike Town keeper Neil Alexander, Watford No1 Richard Lee barely had a save to make all night as the Vicarage Road's season rolled remorselessly on.
?We a little good spell in the second-half when maybe we thought we might be able to get back into the game, but it wasn't to be,? said the 22-year-old, who had only arrived on the pitch ten minutes earlier as the on-loan Jimmy Smith disappeared.
With Luke Chadwick bowing out 20 minutes before the end as his hamstrings started to tighten, Roeder's job is not getting any easier with Chadwick likely to now join the casualty list ahead of this weekend's long haul down to Plymouth.
In the end, of course, Croft's opening goal was scant consolation as he reacted sharply to Jamie Cureton's near post cross and stabbed the ball beyond the beaten Lee.
Chadwick's knock and Darren Huckerby's three-game ban for his derby misdemeanours should, surely, give Croft a start this Saturday after impressing on each of his recent substitute appearances. That's his big aim. To nail down a starting berth.
?I'm pleased to finally get off the mark this year – it's come a bit later than it did last year,? said the one-time England Youth international, whose City career got off to a flying start with two goals in his opening five Norwich games 15 months ago following his ?600,000 switch south from Manchester City that summer.
?Obviously my main aim is to tryand play more games – that's what I want. And, yes, it was nice to score, but I'd like to get more time on the pitch and, hopefully, try and get a few more.?
On this evidence, few sides will get much change out of Watford. Boothroyd had the added luxury of being able to keep his ?3 million strike signing Nathan Ellington on the bench as Messrs King and Henderson went to work in their usual direct style.
In fairness, City were able to fight a little of that fire with fire as the on-loan Martin 'Tiny' Taylor held firm. At the other end, Danny Shittu was this big, immovable object that the Canaries rarely found a way round.
?They are a big, strong side,? confirmed Croft. ?And I don't know whether we got bullied or what tonight, but they'll be up there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
?But we need to start winning games.?
Croft, like his manager, refused to reach for the obvious excuse of two, big games fallig within 48-hours of eachother. It didn't help, was about as far as he got.
Up at Bramall Lane and Town boss Jim Magilton refused to reach for that line either as Ipswich's away-day blues continued with that 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Blades.
?They are two difficult games – the derby and then to come into a game against a top side like Watford two days later is going to be tough.
?And maybe it did take its toll. But, like I said, we need to start winning games and we can't make excuses. We need to start getting three points.?
And while City's set-piece marking was again of the suicidal variety as centre-half Adrian Mariappa was handed the freedom of the six-yard box to thump his header against the base of David Marshall's post five minutes before the break, luck did little to help as the ball cannoned in off the back of the City keeper's calf for his first own-goal of the season.
King's third was just tired minds and tired defending giving the Watford hitman all the time and space he ever needed to smash a low drive beyond an exposed Marshall.
?You know when it's not going for you, it's not going for you,? said Croft. ?But the gaffer's had his word and we need to pick up.?
All of which makes the requirement for this weekend very smple, very straight-forward. Against teams that aren't of the West Bromwich Albion and Watford ilk, Norwich have to start digging out results.
And the next time they do meet either the Baggies or the Hornets they have to either have grown by about three inches and a stone and a half a man – or else they have to be so much better at playing the kind of bright, passing football you need to by-pass the Danny Shittus of this world.
Both of which may yet demand that Roeder digs something out of the loan market – something, ideally, out of the same, committed and uncompromising mould as 'Tiny' Taylor.
?As I say, we need to start winning games,? said Croft. ?But first off, we need to go there and play well, ie like the latter stages against Ipswich.
?And we need to produce that for 90 minutes. There was a little period in the game tonight where we had them on the rocks, but we need to do that consistently over the 90 minutes.?
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