City keeper David Marshall found himself a spot all to himself on Saturday afternoon – as nigh-on the only person with Canary blood in Carrow Road that had that challenge down as a foul.
For while David Mooney, Korey Smit and 24,500 Canary supporters might have convinced themselves that the on-loan Reading striker had just bagged a potentially priceless leveller some five minutes from the end of yesterday's 1-0 home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday, stood at the far end of the pitch the 24-year-old Canary keeper always had his doubts.
And, alas, Mr Russell was about to prove Marshall right. Even if subsequent TV replays would suggest that the man in the middle got a key, key decision badly, badly wrong.
“The boys were all running away celebrating, but when a ball goes that high it is usually always a foul,” said Marshall, as Alan Lee's deep, looping header from a Simon Lappin cross arced across Grant's goalmouth and found the Owls defence all at sea.
Of course, roll the clock back a fortnight to St Andrews and the official was giving the attacker the benefit of the doubt as Cameron Jerome steamed in on Marshall. This week and it was Grant getting the lucky break – despite the fact that neither the visiting keeper nor his two, covering defenders appeared to be appealing for an infringement.
The linesman, of course, was busily flagging for a handball on the line. He had seen nothing wrong with the original aerial challenge.
“So I knew he wasn't going to give it,” said Marshall. “And as I say, 99 times out of a hundred, you get it. But we didn't last week – and that's just the way that it goes.
“But it's done now – we'll just have to stick together and, hopefully, our luck will turn next week. And we'll not be blaming refs from now till the end of the season. We've just got to pick ourselves up and go again.”
The Scottish international keeper – just back from an interesting week with the Tartan Army – readily admitted that this weekend's contest was one he'd file under 'must win'.
That they lost merely adds to the pressing need for the Football League to, in City's eyes, do the decent and all-but condemn Southampton to the drop by imposing a ten-point penalty on the Saints for falling into administration in mid-season.
“It was a disappointing game to lose, really,” said Marshall, who pulled off an excellent first-half stop low to his right to deny Marcus Tudgay.
Alas he had long since moved away to his left three minutes after the re-start as Jermaine Johnson's half-hit effort deflected in off the base of Jon Otsemobor's out-stretched boot.
“And to a silly goal as well like that… so we feel a bit hard done by, but we just need to get on with it.
“Five games to go and we've got enough points there to pick up to stay up.”
In fairness to Sheffield Wednesday, they deserved to take at least a point from the game – arguably even all three. For whatever reason, Norwich lacked the conviction and the flow to their game that they had before the international break.
Two, sapping World Cup outings for Sammy Clingan and a round the world trip for David Carney might not have been the best of preparation for such a key contest.
“It can go both ways,” said the City No1. “The boys have had plenty of rest; I just think we didn't play well first-half. And we just didn't really recover from that.
“And you can blame the break – but they had the break as well. So we'll just have to pick ourselves up for two big games next week.”
First up is Swansea away and then Watford at home. Three, if not four points would be ideal as the scrabble intensifies at the very foot of the Championship table.
It is, said Marshall, a fight he sees going right to teh very wire – right to The Valley on the final day of the season.
“I can't see us being safe until the final day,” he admitted, a prospect that will do little to cheer Norfolk's frail of heart.
“We're still outside the bottom three; we've got five games to go to stay outside the bottom three – so we'll just have to look to do that.”
The fact that three of those five games are away from home doesn't help. One, of course, is just down the road – a fact not lost on the City keeper as Norwich head for squeaky bum time; Southampton head for the court of the Football League.
“Obviously it helps being here at Carrow Road because the fans were again brilliant, but we feeel as if we can go and win away – and especially the derby, as well. So there's some massive games coming up.”
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