City terrier Matty Pattison insists that he won't be curbing his competitive ways as the current clamp-down on the two-footed lunge continues to produce one red card after another.
Charlton's Sam Sodje was, of course, the name on everyone's lips in Norfolk yesterday as his horrific, shin-high lunge towards Darel Russell found the Addicks having to dig out a point with just ten men for the last hour of yesterday's festive contest.
Down in the East End of London and it was Steve Coppell's Royals that were asked to perform a similar feat against West Ham United as the lunchtime live clash saw Brynjar Gunnarsson exit early for a similar challenge.
Gunnarsson though stayed to defend his case; Sodje was half-way to the tunnel before referee Mick Russell reached for his red card and turned yesterday's contest into an hour-long siege of Nicky Weaver's goal. In the end, the Addicks cracked just once as Darel Russell directed his glancing header home. Otherwise, Weaver held firm as the likes of Matt Holland and Chinese international skipper Zheng Zhi kept the visitors organised and focussed.
“I didn't really see it, but it looked a bad one,” said the on-loan 21-year-old, as City's problems ironically multiplied the moment that Sodje walked. Suddenly what had been a relatively open contest became one in which Charlton skilfully filled every space they could find in their own, final third. With Zhi's goal already in the bag, they had no need to wander any further upfield.
As for the current, clamp-down climate, Pattison admits it is becoming an increasingly difficult line to tread; sometimes the ball is clearly there to be won – even if the player comes too.
“It's a hard one,” he admitted. “Sometimes it can be a really good tackle when you go in when your studs are showing; sometimes it can be a really stupid one.
“But it is a hard one and sometimes you do think about it when you're going in for a challenge – it does cross your mind. But you can't worry about it because otherwise you'd never tackle – or if you don't go in whole-heartedly then you can come off worse.”
Sodje's was well and truly the wrong side of that line as, in fairness, Addicks boss Alan Pardew was the first to admit afterwards.
“Once we got the goal it looked as if our shape had started to cause them problems,” said Pardew, who went into battle with just Chris Iwelumo up front.
“It looked like a good afternoon for us and then it obviously changed on the tackle,” he added. “It's a tackle that I'm very much in favour of outlawing and as soon as it fell in between Darel Russell and Sodje it was always going to be a tough tackle, but unfortunately he made the wrong decision by taking off with both feet. You can't do that.”
Down to ten men and the level of expectation within yet another Carrow Road full-house rose up another couple of notches. As ever, however, events didn't prove quite that simple as Charlton steadfastly refused to be drawn out of position and minus the midfield wit of a Mark Fotheringham, Norwich just lacked that final, incisive pass.
“Sometimes is extremely hard,” admitted Pattison, who was typically robust and competitive alongside stand-in skipper Russell. “They put everyone behind the ball so it's hard to break it down sometimes and it starts to get a bit frustrating.
“Sometimes the crowd get on your back, but you've just got to keep playing the way you've been playing – play patient and hope that you can break them down.”
In fairness, the Canaries did see the whites of Weaver's eyes on more than enough occasions – finding a way beyond them was another matter as, in no particular order, Darren Huckerby, Jamie Cureton, Jason Shackell, Ched Evans, Mo Camara and Russell all saw chances of various varieties come and go.
“I thought we were creating enough chances, but it just didn't come – we were just unlucky,” said Pattison. The first-half, in particular, should have seen the Canaries emerge with their noses in front.
Cureton's tame header from a pin-point Pattison cross was up there with the best of them; Huckerby would have fancied his chances at getting his sweeping effort up and down better than he did after a neat one-two with Evans.
“We had a number of chances in the first-half and if any of those go in, it's a different game – definitely,” said Pattison, still likely to be the first, full-time arrival once the January transfer window opens. That little deal was sorted as part of his original loan deal from St James' Park and Roeder will have seen more than enough already to believe that the combative ways of the Championship are tailor-made for someone of Pattison's competitive ilk.
“We seemed to create just as many chances when they had 11 men, but it just didn't go in for us. And it was definitely against the run of play when they scored and that just knocked us back a little bit.”
Come the very death and Evans almost squeezed a winner home only for Weaver to repeat his Shackell header heroics from the first-half. “That one from Ched (Evans) at the end there – I thought that was going in,” said Pattison. “But he pulls off a really good save. That goes in and that's game over there.”
With that big away win at Scunthorpe already in the bag, City are still on the kind of two-point-per-game form that title-winners stick to – they just started their season three months and one manager later than everyone else.
“It's still not a bad result – we can still take positives from it. It was a good team performance and we just need to take that into the Wolves game and they're not playing that well at the minute and so, hopefully, we can get a good result against them.”