Canary boss Glenn Roeder tonight hailed a City victory as important “as beating QPR 3-0 last season” after Norwich racked up a famous 2-0 win over the oldest of enemies.
The Rangers win, of course, guaranteed the Norfolk club's place in the Championship for another season and ensured that Roeder completed his 'Mission Impossible' after arriving at the helm with City five points adrift of safety at the very foot of the table.
Whether today's result against Ipswich can guarantee anything similar remains to be seen. However, if Norwich can continue to produce performances of a Hyde-Hyde nature such as this – as opposed to the Jekyll and Hyde efforts of Hillsborough and beyond – then they should still be good for a solid, mid-table finish.
“I think performance, result and what it means… It would be very close to beating QPR 3-0,” said Roeder after watching his side for once not fluff their lines the moment that the Sky TV cameras started to roll.
To add extra icing on the cake, the two goals were both delivered with a real derby gusto – Lee Croft stroking home a glorious 25-yarder just after the hour-mark before Matty Pattison's third goal in four games nipped any hope of a Danny Haynes-inspired revival firmly in the bud as he smashed home a deep David Bell free-kick in off the underside of the bar eight minutes from time.
“That has to be the most important [result] because it kept our status in the Championship. When we came here in November and we had just eight points, it was nearly snooker time – teams just don't stay up with eight points.
“By beating QPR 3-0 at home in what I think was the last home game of the season, that absolutely nailed down our status in the Championship. So this runs very close to that.”
To their credit, they were 'at it' for long, long periods of the game – and duly reapred their reward.
“Our lads were hugely motivated – as you'd expect them to be,” said the City chief, with Canary man of the match Sammy Clingan leading by example.
He snapped into every last tackle and ensured that Town's Republic of Ireland Under-21 star Owen Garvan never managed to pull his usual array of strings.
Town were bitty and dis-jointed; Norwich were strong in both mind and body as they racked up their first home win over their Suffolk visitors in almost five years and lifted themselves back into 19th spot in the process.
“I didn't need to talk about the need for determination and enthusiasm in this – that was there when I walked into the dressing room an hour and a half before kick-off,” said Roeder, as his big decisions paid off – dropping Wes Hoolahan into the hole off Leroy Lita and pairing Gary Doherty with Elliot Omosuzi in John Kennedy's absence.
“Right from the first minute I thought we got on top of Ipswich,” he said. “There was a period just after half-time when we weren't quite on top of the game, but no-one dominates a game for 90 minutes.”
It was in that spell that Jon Walters had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring. But once David Marshall had pulled off a superb, one-handed save to claw the ball away, so Norwich found their feet again and in Croft's opener found the kind of finish to match the occasion.
“Overall, I think you have to say that Ipswich were well-beaten in the end. And any winning – or unbeaten – run has to start somewhere,” he added.
“And this would be the perfect platform. But I always say that talk is cheap. We have to go and do it. Make it happen. We have to carry it on at Watford on Wednesday and we know that it is going to be difficult there.
“But we go there with our tails up and it's important that we go in and out of there with a point – or three.”
The biggest winners were, of course, the supporters whose patience has been sorely tested over not just this season, but every one of late. Today and their favourite football club delivered. When it mattered – and against who it mattered.
“The supporters were on their [the players] side for the whole game and they got the sort of result and performance that they craved – as much as we did.”
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