It may only have been Northampton Town Reserves, but Norwich City finally got a victory under their belts last night and Academy Manager Ricky Martin is hoping it will lift the doom and gloom within the club as the Canaries prepare for the vital Championship clash with Coventry this weekend.
Martin, who also holds the role of acting Reserve team boss, was in charge for the 5-2 success over the Cobblers' second string and whilst the return of Mark Fotheringham and Gary Doherty from injury provided the major talking point, the Canaries played some bright, inventive football and ran out deserved winners.
It was so refreshing to see a City side express themselves and play with such freedom; the shackles were off and with none of the pressure that being rooted to the foot of the table inevitably brings, Martin's side could have scored even more
“We played some very good stuff,” said Martin. “From an attacking point of view we created some very good chances and in terms of the football we played of in the final third, the lads should be very pleased.
“My final message to the boys was to congratulate them on getting a Norwich team winning a game again. I think that is a big boost for everyone in the club and let's hope it has a knock-on effect and the first-team can go on and get a win against Coventry on Saturday.”
With Glenn Roeder's new charges five points adrift at the bottom and clearly lacking in confidence, it is human nature that it will, in turn, affect City's younger generation.
In football, winning is everything and the Colney spirit has obviously paid the price for the Canaries' dismal start to the season. But all it takes is a few wins and everybody is smiling again. Results, results, results.
“Does that lack of confidence seep down to the rest of the boys? Yes it does,” added Martin.
“At the training ground, you've got the first-team who can't win a game at the moment, the reserves who hadn't won a game for a little while and the youth team who have gone a few games without a victory.
“It is important to have a winning environment and hopefully this will be the first of a run within the club leading up to Christmas.”
Whilst Messrs Fotheringham and Doherty completed 65 minutes after their ankle and groin injuries respectively, there were some eye-catching performances from some of City's bright young hopes in the Pontins Combination clash and plenty for the 1,148 crowd to cheer about.
18-year-old Ross Kelly showed great promise on the right-hand side of midfield, terrorising the Cobblers' defence with his pace and power and Rossi Jarvis performed admirably at left-back ? with a goal to show for his efforts.
It was in midfield though where the game was won and on-loan Chelsea star Jimmy Smith did his chances of a first-team recall no harm at all with a confident display which included a sweetly struck penalty.
With the arrival of Matty Pattison from Newcastle, all of a sudden, City boss Roeder finds himself with real options in the middle of the park and add the return of Fotheringham and the possibility of another midfield loan addition before Thursday's deadline, it is anyones guess as to who will line up in the engine room come the weekend.
Smith ? who will be hoping to be given the nod- was certainly one of the star performers but Martin's side ? watched from the stands by Roeder and Lee Clark ? reaped the rewards of naming a starting XI which included seven players with first-team experience.
Whilst it was imperative that Fotheringham and Doherty came through unscathed, you could see that their presence lifted the younger members of the side and Martin feels lining up alongside senior players will do wonders for their development.
“I was very pleased with the two lads who came back from injury. When the first-team pros come back and play it is important they show to everybody else the reason why they are a professional player and why they have had that first-team experience; they both showed that.
“Their attitude was first class and whilst you should expect that, sometimes you can think it is easy dropping down to Reserve team level. But that wasn't the case with them and I thought they both demonstrated a high level of performance.
“I think it makes a massive difference to the other boys to have them in there playing as well. I know the young lads like playing there with them.
“If it is a full-back playing alongside Gary Doherty, he knows that Gary is going to go and win that header and that, in turn, encourages the full-back to push further up the field. The same goes for midfield players as well.
“They enjoy the combination of playing with the professionals because that is what they are aiming to be one day.”
Norwich City Res: Hollman, Bexfield, Doherty (Miller 65), Halliday, Eagle, Kelly, Smith, Fotheringham (O'Toole 65), Jarvis, Strihavka, Yong (Daley 83). Subs not used: Lathrope, McLean.
Goals – City: Jarvis 21, Smith 28 (pen), O.G 56, Strihavka 64, Daley 90. Northampton: Emery 35
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