Bryan Gunn's use of the loan market proved to be bang on the Mooney again this afternoon as on-loan Royals striker David Mooney grabbed the all-important goal to haul the Canaries out of the bottom three.
With Nottingham Forest on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline, today's 1-0 win over Plymouth made it nine points out of the last 12 for the Norfolk side – and a third clean sheet in those four games to boot.
As smart as the arrival of Messrs Mooney, Gow and McDonald have proved, the one piece of business not to over-look is the return of Jason Shackell. Man of the match by a country mile in the 1-0 win at QPR last week, he and Gary Doherty proved wholly immovable at the heart of that Canary defence as David Marshall barely had a save to make all afternoon.
One little flurry at the start of the second period and that, basically, was that. And now the Pilgrims are right down there with the rest of them. They're heading south just as Norwich are heading north with growing belief and conviction.
“We always knew that it was going to be tight,” said Gunn, as his dabbles in the transfer market start to pay rich fruit. Be it his contacts book or that of John Deehan, the new Canary chief needs to be commended for actually getting into his car and physically watching Dartford-Maidstone. Or Reading Reserves.
And then doing a deal there and then.
“We had chances to make it more comfortable, but the pleasing thing was to score from a set play,” he added, well aware of the difference that the return of the Shackell-Doherty pairing has made.
“Everyone says that you need to win your home games – and we've now had three clean sheets out of the last four,” said the City chief.
“And Jason Shackell has been immense since he's come back to the club from Wolves. I probably can't remember a bad performance since he's been back here.
“He's always in there; always sticking his head in there. He's formed a very good relationship with Gary Doherty and David Marshall seems very calm with those two in front of him. The lads work very hard with Ian Butterworth on the defensive side of things and we're reaping the reward because of that.”
And his overall conculsion? “We've still got a massive job to do; there's still seven games left. But we've given ourselves a chance.”
If Tuesday night's 2-0 success was all rip-roar and swash-buckle as Cardiff came to Carrow Road intent to play, Plymouth's ambition was little more than to deny one of their nearest and dearest relegation rivals the chance to slam three more points into their survival plans.
And faced with two, pretty unyielding banks of four as a result, so the spectacle suffered. It was all tight, tetchy Championship drop-zone stuff as the Canaries huffed and puffed with precious little sign of an end product.
Alan Gow came closest before the break as he almost took full advantage of the move of the half in the 26th minute only for his final effort from a Mooney-Hoolahan combo to roll just a yard wide.
And that was largely it. The ball pinged through the six-yard box on occasion; an out-stretched leg wouldn't quite get the final touch. But come the break and the Pilgrims were half-way home to the point they craved.
Eight minutes after the break and Plymouth's game plan went out of the window as Mooney headed Norwich in front.
As ever, it owed much to Doherty's forehead – in both boxes, the Canary skipper was hauling Norwich out of the drop zone virtually single-handedly as he rose at the far post to guide Sammy Clingan's deep corner back into the six-yard box mixer.
Where Mooney waited and, with all the assurity of a natural born finisher, stabbed his header inside the keeper's right-hand post.
It forced Plymouth to come out to play which suited Norwich just fine as first Lee Croft and the Jon Otsemobor drove forward into the fast-opening spaces.
Now it was 'Game on..'
Before the end and Russell would see red for a second yellow and Master McDonald would have everyone purring again with a 93rd minute dart and dipping shot that flew little more than a foot over.
Kid's got no fear. And a very clear idea of where exactly the goal is. There's something there.
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