City keeper David Marshall is banking on his new Canary team-mates sparing him an extra-long stint at the office tonight as Norwich prepare to face MK Dons in their Carling Cup first round clash.
This time last year and having successfully brushed aside Barnet in the first round, the City No1 found himself sparing the Canaries all manner of blushes with his 4-3 penalty win heroics over lowly Rochdale.
With hindsight, that second round tie – and the nature of City's performance in the preceeding two hours of football – merely gave an urgent pointer as to what was about to transpire under Peter Grant's hapless leadership.
Which is why this evening's first-ever visit to the stadium:mk comes with one or two early warning bells attached; Norwich could well do without any Spotland type escapades ahead of their opening home fixture of the season against Blackpool this weekend.
Get the job done nice and early; back on the bus before anyone has to endure the agonies of extra-time and then penalties. He has, after all, already faced one penalty this season as Coventry nicked into a 47th minute lead at the Ricoh on Saturday.
“We'd seen in the last pre-season game that the boy [Elliott Ward] was going to go right,” said Marshall, having clearly done his homework with new City goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright.
“It was just a case then of whether it was high or low and I decided to go low,” he added, as Elliott duly went high.
“Disappointing – especially when I don't think it was a penalty. And it's a hard one to take – especially after having played so well. So, hopefully, we can play well and get the confidence up on Tuesday.”
It won't be easy. For while the arrival of anew manager over the summer – ex-Chelsea star Roberto Di Matteo – might cause a initial period of upheaval following Paul Ince's switch to Blackburn Rovers, they remain a club that's going places after last year's promotion from League Two. The stadium itself is certainly worth a higher level of football again.
“Obviously they had a disappointing result at the weekend,” said Marshall, as the Dons slipped to a 2-0 defeat at newly-relegated Leicester City.
“This will be their first home game of the new season, so they'll be well up for it. And it's a big game for us obviously having lost the first game – we definitely don't want to go two in a row without winning before Saturday. So it's a big game and the boys will all be up for it.”
Just make an early night, please. Certainly Marshall was in no mood for another shoot-out.
“I don't fancy it at all,” he said. “It was a poor performance that night as I remember, so we'll take an easy win Tuesday.
“We know it'll be difficult but if we play the way that we did on Saturday and take our chances we should be OK.”
And no penalties. “You don't really want that to happen; you want the boys to take their chances – and get the confidence up for the Blackpool game.”
Saturday's 2-0 defeat at the Ricoh was not, he admitted, what anyone was looking for. Keep the bright and breezy performance; just give me the winning result.
“It's the result that you're looking for – especially the first game of the season,” said Marshall, who now has his one-time Celtic Youth team pal John Kennedy for company in the heart of that rebuilt Norwich defence.
“It was disappointing – I thought we played quite well and created a lot of chances, but if we keep our performance up hopefully the goals will go in.”
A phrase that he has, no doubt, used once or twice before. “We can't keep saying this – we need to get points on the door early.”
The presence of Messrs Kennedy and Stefanovic in front of him ought to bring a reassuring air to proceedings. It will be interesting to see whether Canary boss Glenn Roeder – widely linked to Rosenborg's 6ft 1in striker Steffen Iversen today – risks Kennedy again tonight.
Given the 24-year-old's wretched injury record over the last four years, discretion could be the better part of match fitness valour for player who could prove so vital to City's hopes this season.
“I've known John for maybe six or seven years now,” said Marshall, the pair memorably holding Barcelona at bay one night at the Nou Camp.
“So I know the way that he plays – he loves defending; loves tackling; loves winning headers. And I think that's something that we needed and, as I say, I thought him and Dejan [Stefanovic] were great and I hardly had anything to do at the weekend. So long may it continue.”
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