City striker Chris Martin admitted that the Canaries probably got the slice of luck that has deserted them on the injury front this season during the 2-0 win over Tranmere Rovers.
It was hard going at times for the home side – partly due to a stubborn Rovers rearguard – but even the staunchest City fan would admit that they weren’t at their fluent best.
It took that hotly disputed second half penalty to break the deadlock and once Wes Hoolahan slotted it away, there was only going to be one winner.
The manner of the decision angered Rovers chief Les Parry and John Welsh’s adjudged handball from Adam Drury’s shot did look harsh, but as Paul Lambert admitted afterwards – you win some, you lose some.
“Possibly we got a bit lucky with the penalty decision – I haven’t seen it again, I’m not sure whether it was a handball or not,” said Martin afterwards.
“But that was the breakthrough that we needed and then Doc slotted in another one. It was a good battling performance.”
I think ‘battling’ is a fair description of City’s showing but you certainly can’t fault their desire or application. And the Beccles-born forward agreed that the visitors had come to Norfolk and set their stall out for a point – it was down to the Canaries to force the issue.
“Yes, I think so. Because our form has been so good recently, teams are doing that now. A point would have been a good result for them against a team that is in the play-offs so the lads dug in well.
“I think we did very well. Obviously at times it wasn’t as pretty as we would have liked. We probably didn’t play as fluently as in other games but we’re dealing with most challenges that are being thrown our way.
“We need to make sure we carry that on for a long time, there is a long way to go – we’re not even at Christmas yet. But as long as we keep performing as we are, we’ll be alright.”
In the first half, it looked like the Merseysiders had got their tactics spot on, with five Rovers men crowding the midfield. In turn, that made City’s diamond midfield as ineffective as it has been for a while.
The likes of Martin and Simon Lappin were forced to come wide just to try and get some deliveries in the box. But whilst it didn’t pay off in that first 45, the 21-year-old doesn’t just see himself as a goal-getter – he likes to create as well.
“Going through the centre got a bit compact and congested so we had to work it wide and get some balls into the box. It wasn’t going to happen going through the middle like we have done in previous games but we worked it well by grinding them down and in the end we got our reward.
“I try to pull out left and right and see if I can lay on chances for my team-mates and whip in a few crosses as well. I like to cut in and shoot like I did in the first half and I think you need to have more invention when it’s so tight like that because you just need that little spark to get things going.”
After Gary Doherty’s tap in with 10 minutes left made it 2-0, it was certainly game, set and match. But Martin could have made it a slightly flattering scoreline after a glorious chance in the final moments.
Tormentor-in-chief Hoolahan played him through and with the City striker bearing down on goal, you’d have bet on him continuing his recent form. But while he shot into the side netting after rounding the Tranmere ‘keeper, Martin wasn’t about to let it take the shine off another three-point haul.
“I had it in my mind just to go round him and slot it into the net but it didn’t go to plan really. I possibly took it too wide, but if I had it another 10 times I’d score all 10, I suppose it’s just one of those things.
“I had to wait a long time for my chance today. We didn’t have too many clear cut chances and as soon as I went through I was thinking ‘goal!’, but I couldn’t provide the finish.
“The ‘keeper was quite a way out of his goal and looking back now it seemed quite easy to do it but I didn’t quite get the execution right. But hopefully I can keep getting in those positions.”