And the Canaries continue to move onwards and upwards…
First things first, and after adopting a more cautious approach with his team selection at Colchester last Saturday, at Scunthorpe yesterday Norwich manger Glenn Roeder picked what most supporters would consider to be an ideal starting line-up.
4-4-2 with Huckerby and Dublin in from the start gives you more than enough in terms of experience and quality to accomplish the mission at – with all due respects – a place like Scunthorpe.
Ironically enough though, the two players recalled to the team to provide the attacking impetus so evidently missing at Layer Road were limited to peripheral roles and didn't take centre stage as might have been expected.
Certainly Huckerby was a pale shadow of his devastating and most menacing best that we witnessed in the first-half against Sheffield United and in the last half an hour at Colchester last week, as aside from only an occasional foray forward he was forced to help out defensively as much as he was allowed to do what he does best at the other end of the pitch.
Likewise with Dublin, who was often found standing facing his own goal on the halfway line watching play unfold in front of, rather than around or beyond him.
Indeed City as a team were often placed on the back foot by their opponents and forced to defend and fight for the right to win possession, but this they did with absolute aplomb.
Think of Wolves away, QPR away and Plymouth away?and this, my friends, was the exact opposite.
As good a 90 inutes from the Canaries from a defensive point of view as I've seen in a long time.
(And before anyone asks, yes, there should be questions raised as to why City were actually forced into defending so well against a struggling Championship side, but given the state of affairs this season, that can certainly wait for the time being providing that points continue to be accumulated in the manner they currently are…)
As already mentioned, the attackers did their bit when called upon, midfielders Darel Russell, Mark Fotheringham and Matty Pattison stayed strong, resolute and well-disciplined positionally, but it was the back five earned that all three points yesterday.
Once again David Marshall looked every inch a million pound goalkeeper ? as he has done in my opinion since he arrived at the club ? Mo Camara was again the effective, efficient and no nonsense full-back he has portrayed since his arrival, and Jon Otsemobor was almost unstoppable when he sprinted forward down the right flank.
Otsemobor made the winning goal for Jamie Cureton with a scintillating 60-yard run and cross, and while he does remain guilty of losing concentration and allowing wingers to run beyond or inside him at times, providing that he continues to work on improving on that score – but at a cost of him curtailing his attacking contribution – then he's going to be some full-back in the not too distant future, believe me.
But it was the two centre-backs who stole the show yesterday.
Jason Shackell and particularly Gary Doherty were awesome throughout the contest, and finally?finally it seems that the two can play together after all and actually compliment each other's game.
Individually I don't think there's ever been a serious problem with either of them. They're both brave and committed, they tackle well and they both possess decent pace, but for some reason both have played better alongside other central-defensive partners than when they have played together with eachother.
In the last couple of matches though, the pair have been outstanding.
Time and time again one of them – or sometimes both at times! – would throw their bodies in front of the ball to block attempted shots, and it was almost an inevitability that when Scunthorpe put crosses into the box the head of Doherty or Shackell would thump it clear from the danger zone.
And if this is the influence that Martin Taylor's spell at the club has had on the pair, then the sooner City can sign him on a permanent basis the better for all concerned.
So strange really that when the teams were announced yesterday, many City fans would have been of the opinion that while this was a game that the Canaries were certainly capable of winning, it would more than likely be the ?stars? of the team who would grab all the glory again.
Proof, if ever it was needed, that defenders and goalkeepers can be match-winners too.
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