City boss Paul Lambert admitted that Barcelona would have struggled on the Edgeley Park pitch yesterday, after City battled and scrapped their way to three points at Stockport.
The 3-1 success wasn’t the prettiest and you could argue that the playing surface – which staged a Sale Sharks rugby union match on Friday night – was to blame.
But this Canary outfit are made of stern stuff – and they weren’t about to let a few bobbles get in the way of another three-point haul.
And the victory, after a Grant Holt brace and Wes Hoolahan penalty, means the Norfolk club are now only four points off second placed Charlton.
“You see the state of the pitch and it’s not the greatest due to the rugby last night, but they were great, battling away,” said Lambert, speaking to the press afterwards.
“You’ve got to play the pitch first and foremost but all credit to the lads. I’m delighted with the win because it’s not an easy place to come.
“We played some good football at times but sometimes you’ve got to battle away and earn the right and we did that.
“But you’re never going to play well on that pitch, Barcelona would come and struggle on that the way it is.”
Holt’s first half header, after Simon Lappin’s delivery slipped through the goalkeeper’s hands, gave the Canaries – backed by 1,250 travelling fans – a deserved lead.
But County came back into it after the break and even though Hoolahan’s penalty gave Norwich a two-goal cushion, a deflected Carl Baker effort made for a tense few minutes.
“Oh yes it was nervy, there is no doubt about it. When a team gets a goal back that late on then the crowd are galvanised and you’ve got to hang on.
“But Cody [McDonald] did great for Grant [Holt] to score the third one,” he added, after City’s breakaway goal settled the contest.
The captain’s second of the afternoon was his 12th in all competitions this campaign and if the Canaries are to challenge the top two, then Holt’s contribution will be key.
He has been nothing short of outstanding in 2009/10 and despite the fact he is carrying an ankle knock, the former Shrewsbury and Forest man continues to lead from the front.
And the City chief once again admitted his admiration for the summer signing, as well as praising the two lads at the other end after a resolute defensive showing.
“Grant’s terrific. He’s putting in the same level of performances and I’m delighted with him and his goalscoring rate.
“And the two of them [Gary Doherty and Jens Berthel Askou] were great – they have been for weeks now. You get to the stage where you expect them to deliver.
“Fraser [Forster] made a terrific save at 0-0 as well which helped us so, all in all, it was a big three points.”
Without a recognised right-back to choose from, it meant a reshuffle before kick-off with left-back Adam Drury shifting to the opposite side. As a result, Matt Gill took Simon Lappin’s spot in midfield.
And as you come to expect with City stalwart Drury – who notched up his 300th City appearance at Edgeley Park – he certainly didn’t let anyone down.
“He did great, but as I said on Friday, for this club to only have one recognised right-back is strange so we have to try and address it.
“Hopefully Jon [Otsemobor] will be back next week and we’ll try and get somebody in as well because one right-back is never enough.”
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