City boss Bryan Gunn could do little more than point an accusing finger at Lady Luck as the Canaries continued to rue the big decisions that got away…
For hard on the heels of Andy D'Urso's antics in the home clash with Bristol City, so this weekend's home defeat by Coventry City had another gem for the collection of 'what-should-have-beens' – Stephen Wright's far post handball as he slyly deflected the ball off Carl Cort's forehead with an outstretched arm.
The intent was obvious – to all but referee Paul Taylor and his assistant who should have been perfectly-placed to see Lee Croft's perfectly-placed, far post cross be nudged away illegally.
“It's bad luck – bad luck,” said Gunn afterwards, clearly hoping that last weekend's 1-1 draw with Burnley was a corner turned on the fortune front.
“I thought we got some good luck last week when Chris Eagles blasted that chance over and I thought we might be in for a change of fortune…”
Such is your luck, however, when you are stuck so fast in the bottom three of the Championship. And, again, Norwich don't help themselves. Jordan Henderson's opener was all-too easy; teams simply don't have to work hard enough to prise City apart.
“We were the better team for the first 19 minutes and then they score – and again that's frustrating. We're asking boys to concentrate for 90 minutes; we give them one real opportunity in that first-half and it's a goal.
“It's very frustrating and you can't really put your finger on where it's going wrong because the reaction in the second-half was first class; we came back out; really on top and got our goal back.”
Courtesy of Jonathan Grounds' latest penalty-box effort – his third such strike in 14 City games. At which point, the wind was in Norwich's sails.
“We were on top for another ten, 15 minutes – when we needed a strong referee to give a decision,” said the Canary chief, a hope that was soon to be dashed.
With a certain S Clingan on spot-kick duties, Gunn would “have put his house” on the Northern Ireland international scoring. Alas, the chance never came. And with every one of their relegation rivals picking up points, so Norwich now lie four points off safety. And with just 11 cup finals left to play.
“I've only been a manager for a short period of time now – and I know that every manager goes through it – but I seem to have had a couple now, maybe three [penalty decisions not given].”
Gunn wasn't throwing Mark Fotheringham's subsequent appeal into the mix; that, for him, should have been a goal – whatever Elliott Ward was doing on the goal-line.
“There's a ball knocked down on the edge of the six-yard box, so let's get somebody on the end of that – let's get the ball in the back of the net first and if the referee then decides it's a penalty kick, it's a penalty kick.
“But I was disappointed with the chances that we created and weren't finished.”
Coming on the afternoon of his 100th City appearance, Jamie Cureton's side-foot scuff from four yards out was the stuff of nightmares. And he knew it after Croft and Jon Otsemobor had together prised the Sky Blues apart.
“I know Jamie and he will be disappointed when he misses those chances,” said Gunn, swift to pay tribute to the supporters for keeping the green flag fluttering for as long as they did. Norwich do, after all, test the patience of a saint.
“There were a few boos at half-time, but that's understandable,” he said, already one post-mortem in. Another will have followed back at Colney today.
“Having sat down with a group of lads in the dressing room afterwards and trying to dissect what went wrong today is difficult, but I feel there is going to be a good reaction from today,” said Gunn, all eyes now turning to Tuesday night's trip to Queen's Park Rangers.
There were, you sensed, one or two home truths floating around. Fotheringham's immediate exit for the tunnel as he was substituted deep in the second-half for his midfield rival Darel Russell will be one selection area to note come Loftus Road.
“I had a 22-man squad today and they'll all be in contention,” said Gunn, with barely a moment to pause and catch his breath. “We've got a period of games now – Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday – and who knows what the line-up will be on Tuesday night. That's something that we'll look at on Monday once we know who is going to be on the training field.”
And no sign of his shoulders drooping; his head dropping. “I need to be as positive and as focussed as I have been from the beginning.
“I was under no illusions about how difficult a job it was; I wasn't taking anything for granted whatsoever. And we are where we are after results that have happened already this season.
“But we just need to keep grinding away and hope that it's going to turn somewhere. There's still 11 games, 33 points – there's a lot of points there.”