City boss Bryan Gunn was defiantly clinging to the prospect of 11 more Championship games and the 33 points therein as the Canaries lurched ever nearer the third flight of English football.
For if this afternoon's 2-1 home defeat by Coventry City was not disaster enough, the fact that nigh-on every one of their relegation rivals picked up points for their troubles left an air of dread and resignation hanging heavily over Carrow Road.
The Norfolk side are now four points short of safety – and all with two, tricky away games now looming at Queen's Park Rangers on Tuesday night and Blackpool next Saturday.
The fact that this afternoon's defeat came with yet another 'stonewall' penalty being waved away as referee Paul Taylor saw nothing wrong with Stephen Wright's second-half handball merely ensured that – much like the FA Cup – the feeling remained that Norwich's name might just be on that ticket to Millwall next August.
“We've got 11 games left and 33 points to play for,” said the City chief, after watching Daniel Fox's second-half winner break all manner of Norfolk hearts.
“But I agree with you, the other results didn't go well,” he added. “We've got another round of games on Tuesday and we've got to make sure that results go well for us.
“But first and foremost we need to make sure that we do our job right – and that's something that we didn't complete today. I was just disappointed that we didn't take more advantage of the chances that we had.”
Did you feel you should have had a penalty, was the obvious question.
“Just the one?” said Gunn, with a wry smile.
“I've just caught up with Chris Coleman and their coaching staff – and Stephen Wright's handball [is] stonewall. And that's not from me first, that's from them.”
The vertical mountain that Norwich now face over the next 11 games first become that much steeper in the 19th minute as Jordan Henderson side-footed the Sky Blues ahead.
As ever, it was all too easy. City old-boy David Bell was given too much time and space by the covering Jon Otsemobor and as his cross angled back through the 18-yard-box, so yellow shirts were all too thin on the ground as the visiting midfielder side-footed the ball in-off a prone Leon Best.
And by the time the half-time whistle went so a real sense of dread was starting to fill the place – on and off the pitch. Sky Blues keeper Keiran Westwood had barely been stretched as the home side ran desperately short of both ideas and belief.
After the break and Norwich at least their mountainous task with appropriate gusto – and even got their due reward when Jonathan Grounds pounced on some hesitant defending to smash home a 53rd minute leveller home.
Before which Jamie Cureton had marked his 100th game in a Canary shirt in unfortunate fashion – scuffing the simplest of four-yard chances wide after the ever-willing Lee Croft and Otsemobor had opened up the Coventry left.
But as Norwich went all a bit gung-ho in their search for a winner, so the spaces and the chances started to unfold in their own penalty area.
Jason Shackell repaid every penny of his loan fee with a brilliant block in the 64th minute after Daniel Fox had left three City players trailing with his darting surge tight down the left-hand touchline. As he pulled the ball back for a lurking Best, Coventry's second looked odd on until Shackell threw himself body first to block.
The tide was starting to turn as Norwich saw two, huge penalty appeals waved away – Stephen Wright's sly handball at the far post in front of Cort's forehead was as clear as they come. On the TV replay.
Elliott Ward's on the goal-line moments after Fox had curled home his winner was another for the scrap-book of what-might-have-beens as Hoolahan wriggled through the inside left channel and found skipper Mark Fotheringham unmarked.
His shot bounced up and away off something that was part chest, part arm – either way, it was another glorious chance missed and might have contributed to the skipper's exit moments later.
It was left to Fox to apply the coup de grace – twisting Cort inside out three times before picking his spot in the far, top corner.
But tis ever thus with side's whose cards are marked. You get beat by wonder goals and get nothing from the ref. Them are the rules of the game when you're stuck alone and friendless in the bottom three.
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