City boss Glenn Roeder tonight failed to rise to Aidy Boothroyd's bait as the two managers offered distinctly different verdicts on Norwich's well-deserved 1-1 draw.
For the disappointed Hornets chief, left to ponder his fourth successive draw, the game should have been over by the break; that having seen Danny Shittu smash his way through a clutch of red Canary shirts and onto the end of Jobi McAnuff's 11th minute corner, Watford should have then gone on and killed the game.
They would have done, said the one-time Colney Youth Acadeny coach, but for some hapless refereeing that missed, among other loud penalty appeals, a 'forearm smash' by Dion Dublin deep in the Norwich box.
“An excellent point and deserved,” was Roeder's simply summing up, even if Plymouth's home romp against Colchester United left any last hope of a play-off place hanging by a thread.
A nine-point gap, even by Roeder's recent water-into-wine standards, is simply too big an ask at this stage of the season.
When it was put to him that Boothroyd had apparently suggested that Norwich were, at times, guilty of being 'over-physical', Roeder couldn't help but raise a wry smile.
“Aidy said that? No… Over-physical? I'm sure Aidy's an expert at what's over-physical,” said Roeder, after watching his side ride out Watford's early storm to dig their way to a fine away point courtesy of Jamie Cureton's third goal in as many games nine minutes from the end of normal time.
In amidst it all, Norwich had been forced to don their tin helmets as aerial bomb after bomb was heaved into their box – one-time City transfer target Leigh Bromby being a principal line of supply via his prodigious long throws.
And when Bromby's own target was the head of man-mountain Shittu, Roeder's bemusement was understandable. Hugely effective it may be – and that was Shittu's ninth goal of the season – entertaining it wasn't.
“They've certainly got a unique brand of football here,” said Roeder, not about to demean another manager's way of thinking.
“You can play football anyway you want. I won't be critical of anyone; of how they set their team up to play. But I'm really hoping that Watford go up…”
That “unique brand of football” was the principal reason why Cureton lost his place – that it was only his lack of inches in either penalty area that kept him out of the side.
“Jamie Cureton was very unlucky not to start the game,” said the Canary boss, opting to partner Ched Evans with Dublin up front.
“But when I looked at who the opposition was and, as I say, their unique brand of football I look for what physical presence we had in the squad – and we're not a particularly big team.
“And it was pretty obvious that Dion was going to have to do a job on Shittu.”
One that he didn't do in the 11th minute.
“He's held his hands up at half-time. That as the ball's delivered into the six-yard box between Dion and Marshy (David Marshall) they don't deal with it and we're a goal behind.
“But the pleasing thing is that we didn't cave in. We stood up to them.”
Dublin and Marshall almost produced another penalty box special deep in the second-half when the 38-year-old's attempted flicked clearance merely sent the ball angling up towards the top corner and it needed a superb, reaction stop from the City No1 to claw the ball away to safety.
Otherwise, all concerned held firm and stayed true to their passing faith.
“We tried to keep the ball on the floor as we always do, but it's difficult,” added Roeder. “They put us under a lot of pressure for the first 15 minutes; long throws from just inside the half-way line coming into your penalty box; the boys had to be stand up and be counted.
“And I thought overall they did that.”
Having ridden out that early storm, the Canaries certainly enjoyed the better possession after the break even if it took Cureton's arrival to produce the leveller with a fine, dipping volley from the edge of the Hornets' box.
“Once the game stretched out on the second-half, it was us who had the game really and it was just a question of getting back in.”
His instructions at the break had been very simple, he said. Stand up, rake it on the chin and don't get involved – stay close to your passing roots.
“I said: 'You've got to be brave here…',” said the City chief.
“'Stay strong and have confidence in how we want to play football and that's by making passes from the back, through midfield and into the front…'
“And, of course, when we've done that we've caused them problems.”
In the end they got their just desserts courtesy of Cureton's natural eye for goal.
“Wonderful goal,” said Roeder, about to indulge in a bout of verbal sparring with one of the gathered Press.
Quizzed as to why he thought Cureton – last season's top-scorer in the Championship – didn't join 'one of the top Championship clubs' last summer, Roeder's icy indignation rose swiftly to the surface.
“We are one of the top Championship clubs,” he said. “We are.
“I found them in a mess with eight points. And the league table doesn't lie. And we're gradually sorting it out – slowly but surely. But Rome wasn't built in a day and nor was Norwich.”
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