Canary winger Lee Croft could only agree with his manager after last night's 2-1 defeat at Watford. It was, he confirmed, daylight robbery.
“Unbelievable,” said the 23-year-old City favourite, whose 61st minute header should have proved the platform for a comfortable away-day success as City hauled themselves rightly level.
Instead it merely teed up further heart-break as two minutes later Watford skipper Tommy Smith made the most of a Gary Doherty missed tackle and slipped an all-too easy looking shot underneath David Marshall's dive and on into the far corner for the winner.
The result lifted Watford over Norwich towards the foot of the Championship table and left the watching Adam Sadler in no doubt as to what he was about to inherit as e stepped into the shoes of the departing Lee Clark.
“We've dominated play and it's demoralising for the lads,” said the ever-honest Croft, now with two in two for his efforts of late.
“Coming off the back of the derby win and playing so well; continuing that performance and to come out 2-1 losers with two poor goals we feel… It's heart-breaking, really.”
Watford's 15th minte opener all stemmed from a ghastly mis-cued kick from the luckless Marshall, by when – as ever – Norwich should have already stormed into the lead as Leroy Lita headed a free, third minute chance wide of the far upright.
With David Bell whipping cross after cross into the Hornets box, the contest was crying out for a goal-hungry six-foot four-inch target man – unfortunately Carl Cort's latest return to Championship football was put on hold as he awaited his international clearance from the Spanish FA.
With Wes Hoolahan sidelined with a heavy cold, it was left to Darel Russell to stand-in as a striker again. Before the end, Matty Pattison and Gary Doherty had also tried their hand in and around Lita – all to the same effect as Watford racked up the points and left City to lick their wounds at England's Bisham Abbey training HQ ahead of that testing trip to Reading on Saturday.
“We shoot ourselves in the foot,” said Croft, borrowing another of Roeder's favourite lines.
“The gaffer has just said: 'What have we got to do to win games? We come away from home, we score goals – and we concede two. We've got to score three goals away from home to win a game. Possession-wise and play-wise we've done more than enough, I feel – and I'm sure everyone watching it felt as well.
“It's just… well, I can't put my finger on it.”
Was all the goodwill and belief instilled by that derby success starting to unravel?
“The lads are gutted. We've got half-way there with the performance-level, but what is that without the three points? But we need to keep our heads high and go into the Reading game with that same performance and I'm sure the results will come – if we can eradicate those errors at the back.”
At least Sadler – stood alongside Paul Stephenson in the technical area – now knows what he's let himself in for. Roeder confirmed afterwards that Sadler's precise job title and role would be revealed in the next 24-48 hours as the final details of his arrival were sorted out.
Kicked out of St James' Park by the in-coming Joe Kinnear administration, the former Newcastle United Reserve team boss actually took charge of the club's Under-18s in their trip to West Ham United last weekend.
Croft was swift to pay tribute to the departing Clark who is expected to finalise the details of his new job as manager of Huddersfield Town today.
“I think he's going to be greatly missed,” said Croft. “He was well respected by the lads. He's a great coach and a really nice man as well.
“All the lads wish him well at Huddersfield; I'm sure he'll do a good job. It's our loss and Huddersfield's gain. But I'm sure the gaffer will bring someone else in of good quality.”
Which, in fairness, Roeder has with the imminent appointment of Sadler. But Clark clearly brought something to the party. You presume that Huddersfield, like earlier suitors Carlisle United, will have done their homework on an, as yet, untested young manager.
“He's been there and done it,” said Croft. “He's played the game at the highest level and he's a good man manager; he's a very good coach around the training ground; and he's good with the lads as well. Before and during the game.
“He'll be greatly missed but the gaffer's brought Adam Sadler in and he was really good around the changing room so maybe it's an opportunity for him.”
In amidst all of which, it was easy to overlook that rarest of beasts – a Croft headed goal as Pattison's pin-point delivery found its man. For the City star, that counted for very little two minutes later.
“It did at the time,” he said. “It got us back in the game, but that kind of gets cancelled out – we've lost the game. And that's the main thing.”
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