Jon Otsemobor tonight had an ankle “like a balloon”. Ligament damage, was Glenn Roeder's early verdict.
Which just about summed up City's afternoon in a nutshell after the Canaries managed for the second time this season to lose a home game against a ten-man opposition.
Against Queen's Park Rangers they had over an hour to crack their nut after Matthew Connolly saw red in the 25th minute – but managed instead to concede the game's only goal eight minutes later.
Today and Roy Carroll's 50th minute exit for a professional foul on the on-loan Leroy Lita not only gave Sammy Clingan the chance to level from the penalty spot, but also gave 40 minutes for the home side to conjure up a winner against the ten-man Rams.
Needless to say, it was a gift horse too far for Roeder's side. David Marshall came when he should have stayed; clattered into Adam Drury on the edge of his own area and watched helplessly as Rams substitute Nathan Ellington gleefully took full advantage and rolled an 85th minute winner into an empty net.
It left the Canaries sat forlornly in 21st spot – one place above the drop zone.
Little wonder that the final whistle brought a brief and utterly frustrated chorus of boos from the Carrow Road faithful. That one step forward against Sheffield United has now been followed by three steps back in the shape of the miserable – and distinctly fortunate – 0-0 draw at Barnsley, Dejan Stefanovic's red card folly in the 2-0 defeat against a teenage Saints side and now a 2-1 home defeat to a ten-man Derby outfit.
And all with a comedy winner. Roeder wasn't exactly all smiles afterwards. The forthcoming two-week break will give all concerned much time to ponder ahead of that away rip to Bristol City.
Before then and the Canary chief set sail on a collision course with the Northern Ireland FA after revealing that man of the match Sammy Clingan wouldn't be fit enough to join up with the Northern Ireland World Cup party – despite completing the full 90 minutes today on his return to first team duty following the shoulder injury he sustained on his last night out with ex-Canary boss Nigel Worthington.
“Unfortunately for him, the shoulder has tweaked again,” Roeder reported afterwards. “He needed an injection in it at half-time to quieten it down so that he could carry on. And consequently because of that, he won't be able to join in with Northern Ireland this week. But his general performance I though was good.”
He certainly showed one or two of his team-mates how to take a penalty after Carroll floored Lita. Were there still laces on a ball, he'd have taken them off as he smashed the ball high and away from the diving Stephen Bywater. It was Clingan's initial through-ball that had set Lita in behind the Rams defence; it was, likewise, Clingan who filled the gap at right-back after Otsemobor joined Roeder's casualty list.
It was also Clingan's return to duty that also prompted the sight of skipper Mark Fotheringham starting the game on the bench; his armband and his place going to Darel Russell as the Canary boss made one of the bigger selection calls of the autumn.
Not that it immediately galvanised Norwich into life all in all, it was a pretty flat first-half with Omar Koroma poking the best chance wide before Rob Hulse took full advantage of Norwich's glaring lack of height at the heart of their defence to thump a far post corner home in the 26th minute.
As well as stand-in centre-half Adam Drury mopped up on the floor, Hulse was a threat every time the ball was heaved towards that far stick; it might also have influenced Paul Jewell's bold decision not to follow the Rangers route and go all 4-4-1 on the Canaries. Instead Derby put just seven men behind the ball and played for the last 40 minutes with two up top in a 4-3-2 formation.
Faced with one player less than against Rangers, Norwich still managed to barely ruffle Bywater's feathers. At the other end Jewell got his due reward when Ellington found Marshall handing him an open goal five minutes before the end.
“It's always disappointing when you lose any game, but the manner that we've lost today'same is particularly galling,” he said, as Marshall dropped the big, fat clanger. In fairness, it has only been his saves that have spared Norwich an even rougher start to the season.
The two saves to deny Kevin Phillips for Birmingham and then Danny Webber for Sheffield United were worth four points; his penalty save against Jon Macken at Oakwell added another one. This afternoon and at least a point slipped from Norwich's grasp.
By rights, of course, City should have battered Derby out of sight when they had the chance – in that 15-minute spell which followed the penalty. As ever, however, they never found a finish. They barely found a shot. Lita would stab the best chance wide off an Antoine Sibierski flick towards the end.
Otherwise it was blankety-blank again in front of goal. Only Doncaster have scored fewer goals than the Canaries; even bottom of the table Nottingham Forest have scored one goal more.
Mistakes will always happen defensively. It was just Marshall's turn today. But when you don't score goals at the other end, that's when you invariably pay a big, big price for every time you put a foot wrong. Or rush headlong out of your goal for no apparent reason.
“As well as he [Marshall] did for us last year, he's kicked on and been an even better goalkeeper so far this season,” said Roeder. “And the first mistake he's made, he's been punished for.
“Occasionally goalkeepers make a mistake and they get lucky; they get away with it. But in this incident, David made the wrong decision to come out on that long, through-ball when Adam [Drury] had things under control and we've been wounded. Badly wounded.”
Norwich now have two weeks to lick those wounds before all the 'fun' starts again at Ashton Gate.
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