Canary chief Glenn Roeder tonight revealed he was firmly on thre prowl for one, if not two, additional loan strikers as the goals – and, more crucially, the points – continued to elude his rebuilt side.
The 1-0 home defeat by Stoke City saw the Canaries slump back to 17th spot – just five points above the drop zone having taken just five points from the last 21.
More tellingly, in those seven games they have scored just four goals. And with only 19 Carrow Road goals to their name all season, Norwich have the dubious distinction of being the Championship team with the lowest number of home goals.
As wretched a goal as Mamady Sidibe's soft, 58th minute header was from a Rory Delap long throw, the Canaries should have walked away with a decent 2-1, if not 3-1 win, from a much-improved performance against a Stoke side that could yet win the title. If they could just score goals.
“Rough justice? Of course, it was,” said Roeder afterwards. “But it was all of our own making.”
First, the deciding goal. Not exactly a surprise, but the one time that the two covering defenders on the near post – one in front of his man, the other behind – and the keeper fail to do their individual jobs, so the giant Sidibe was allowed to nod the tamest of back-headers over a stranded Marshall for only his second goal of the season.
“We worked hard for two days in training on what we know Stoke are good at – and that's their set-plays and particularly the long throw-in,” he said, as Delap wound himself up and sent a long-throw missile arcing towards Sidibe's head.
“Generally speaking tonight, they dealt with them very well. But the vital one they didn't deal with; two or three small errors from the three players that are involved – including the goalkeeper – and it ends up being flicked up over Marshy (Marshall) and into an empty net. And it's a ridiculously poor goal. That is poor defending.”
The point was, said Roeder, that it shouldn't have been the goal to decide the game. Marshall barely had another save to make all night. At the other end, after enjoying long periods of decent possession and passing in the first-half without ever really testing Carlo Nash, come the break and the Canaries started to work the visiting keeper.
Skipper Mark Fotheringham almost whipped one in off Nash's left ankle in the 48th minute, before Jamie Cureton (twice) and substitute Ched Evans found all the space either should ever have needed to bag at least a leveller.
Nash spread himself well to deny Cureton his first from an Evans flick-on; Evans then failed to find either the power or direction to trouble Nash from 12-yard free header while Cureton – deep into stoppage time – would poke a right-foot shot wide from three yards out when a left-foot swing and slash would have taken the ball back into the goal.
“On chances created we should have been allowed to concede one goal,” said Roeder, in a very measured post-match Press conference that belied his likely fury at losing to a Tony Pulis side in such a manner.
“We should have gone on and won the game comfortably. But we're showing a lack of a killer instinct; making poor decisions on which foot to use to make sure we do hit the back of the net.
“And I think the last chance that we missed from a yard just about summed up all the other chances that we missed. Having said that – and it's a big positive – that's easily the best we've played for the last five, six weeks in terms of a performance. We were by far the better team.”
The trick, of course, was to make all the territorial and technical advantage count as the Potters looked like a side that had started to see their automatic promotion hopes slide through their fingers on the back of two, back-to-back defeats.
But as chances went a-begging, so Stoke left Norfolk right back in the promotion race and looking forward to a clash of the giants on Saturday when they meet fellow title hopefuls Watford in a feast of bright, attacking, passing football.
Or rather football that, in this all-too muscular division, works to considerable effect. Particularly against smaller sides that don't make their chances count.
“The team the whole year has been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the Championship,” said Roeder, with the Canaries having just 35 goals to their name. Given that they've now played 38 games, simple maths tells you that unless you have a wholly water-tight defence, scoring on average less than a goal a game is not going to get you too far.
FA Cup semi-finalists West Bromwich Albion have smashed home 71 goals this season – twice Norwich's paltry total. And all from three games less.
“We've now hit a flat spot with a few disappointing results, but the lack of hitting the back of the net when chances are made that's come back to haunt us tonight,” said Roeder.
Hence his search for additional strike power via the emergency loan market. With six loans already in the building that would, of course, leave at least two in the stands every game. But, clearly, Roeder has got to the stage where needs must.
“If I can find a striker to take on loan, I will take one. I'll take two – if I can find them. I've been looking now for the past couple of weeks and they're few and far between.
“This time of year managers – for many reasons – don't want to let their players go. But a couple of new players here would freshen it up.”