City midfield star Sammy Clingan today said his thanks to the 'Yellow and Green Army' for playing their part to perfection in this weekend's 1-1 draw away at promotion hopefuls Birmingham City.
The better part of 2,500 Canary fans made the journey to St Andrew's – helped, in no small part, by the subsidised coach travel offered back the club's sponsors, Aviva.
Their reward was another hugely-committed effort by Bryan Gunn's reborn Norfolk side – capped by a peach of a 53rd minute free-kick by the 25-year-old Clingan.
It more than made up for Cameron Jerome's controversial 38th minute opener as he smashed into City keeper David Marshall and left Norwich two points off the drop zone; having leap-frogged over Plymouth.
With a two-week break for internationals now on the cards, if Norwich can now put Sheffield Wednesday to the sword in their next home game then Gunn's remarkable rescue act will really be gathering pace.
For now, however, Norwich remain deep in the doo – just heading north at a decent pace.
“I thought the team played really well today – from start to finish,” said Clingan, with the Canaries going oh-so close to grabbing all three points in highly-spirited performance in front of a subdued and third-empty St Andrew's.
“And I think we were unlucky not to win the game,” added the reported Fulham transfer target. “To be fair, Birmingham had a few chances as well, but I think we had the better of the chances – and we were a bit unfortunate with the goal as well.
“With 99 per cent of them, the keeper gets the decision but today he didn't get it – and, thankfully, I got the equaliser.”
It was a sweet, sweet strike from some 25-yards distant. It had pace and whip – and had Maik Taylor seemingly rooted to the spot. A fact that Clingan is intent on reminding him of when the two Northern Ireland international pals team up again this week.
“Once it had left my foot and it was going over the wall, I knew the keeper wasn't going to get across because he was so far across the goal.
“And I know Maik's a good goalkeeper – I'll be meeting up with him next week – so I think I'll give him a bit of stick! I think he'll hear me all next week talking about it.
“But it was just nice to get a goal. I don't get that many and it was nice to do it in an important game today.”
And, of course, right in front of the travelling away support with whom he enjoyed a wild celebration.
“I think the fans were incredible today,” he said. “Even when we were warming up, we knew that the fans were going to get right behind us from the start.
“And it was great to score in front of them and go over and celebrate with them,” said Clingan, likely to be there or thereabouts when the 'Player of the Season' votes are cast.
“It did make it extra special – when you see all those yellow jerseys; they were noisy today; all the lads have seen that – and we upped our performance.”
With the sun out and the coaches heading to the Midlands by almost the dozen, there was something of Oakwell '02 in the atmosphere that Gunn and Co have managed to rekindle.
The fact that the Canaries were, by then, a goal down summed up a frustrating season with officialdom.
“We've had some refereeing decisions this season that has let us down, but we've just got to get on with our game,” said the City vice-skipper. “And, hopefully, just pick up points as often as possible and try and get away from the relegation zone.”
Having now drawn twice with Birmingham and havig taken four points off runaway leaders Wolves in two, enthralling encounters, Norwich managed to prove once again that on their day they can compete with the best.
They just need to work out how to have 'their day' rather more often. In fairness to Gunn and his new-look managerial team, the last five games have now delivered four, highly encouraging performances – it was just Blackpool (a) that sticks out like the sore thumb.
“It just shows that the lads are digging deep for eachother and there's a great camaraderie in the camp,” said Clingan, handed a new midfield partner in the shape of Simon Lappin yesterday. Messrs Fotheringham and Pattison were nowhere to be seen.
And given that both FA Youth Cup stars Korey Smith and Tom Adeyemi now appear to be ahead of them in the pecking order, neither look as if they will figure too large again as Clingan looks ahead to a spirited finish.
“We know it's going to tough between now and the end of the season, but as I've said before we feel confident.
“Let's have a break now and come back refreshed for the Sheffield Wednesday game.”
Two weeks in which they won't be in the drop zone. “Obviously it's not nice being down that end of the table – especially in the relegation zone.
“So I think the lads will be going away with a lot of confidence from today's game because we've showed that we can compete with the best teams in the league.”
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