City boss Paul Lambert was in a philosophical mood this evening, despite the Canaries suffering defeat at Millwall – their first loss in 17 league games.
After taking an early lead through a clever Chris Martin free-kick, the league leaders struggled to cope with the Lions’ intensity at times, both on the pitch and on the terraces.
And though the effort and commitment was in evidence as always, Kenny Jackett’s men sealed the points through Tony Craig’s low shot before the break and a Neil Harris header on 51 minutes, after City reacted slowly to a short corner.
But with Leeds conceding a late equaliser at Hartlepool in a 2-2 draw and Charlton only gaining a point from their trip to Swindon, it could have been a lot worse.
And the Canary boss was in no mood to be down-hearted, far from it, he’s proud of his team for their achievements over the past few months.
“One defeat in nearly four months – any manager would take that record and I can say the lads have been absolutely brilliant,” said Lambert in the post-match press conference.
“We can’t win every game so we have to get over this and go on to the next game. I have never dwelt on our victories and never once said we would do x,y or z because I know how hard every game is and how badly teams want to beat us because of our long run.
“Grant [Holt] will be back next week and we’ll try and win that game. I wouldn’t say that we missed him more this week because the lads who have come in have done great for me and I’m not going to do them a dis-service.
“There wasn’t much in it and it was a hard-fought battle. Kenny has a good side and we knew it would be hard.
“Our goal was a terrific free-kick from a lad full of confidence. After that the atmosphere felt more like a cup-tie. We switched off in the penalty box as they equalised and again when they scored their second goal.”
Even though they went down to defeat in south east London, it could have been a whole lot worse in the game’s dying moments, when the referee blew the final whistle just after a professional foul on Steve Morison.
Substitute Zak Whitbread was the culprit and it looked as if he was facing a straight red card and a three-game ban.
But the referee called it a day and that was that. And Lambert admitted that official Grant Hegley might have “done us a bit of a favour” when he chose to call time straight after the incident, without punishing the ex-Lions defender.
As for Lambert’s opposite number, he was clearly delighted that his team were the ones to stop the remarkable Canary run.
Now up to fifth place ahead of Swindon, Millwall look a racing certainly for the play-offs at least and as many predicted, they are having an extremely strong second half of the season.
“We went up a gear in the second-half and to go 1-0 down against such a good team as Norwich and still come back is really pleasing,” Jackett told the press afterwards.
“When they get their noses in front they are really good. But we managed to negate them and get at them and get the vital goal at the start of the second half which proved enough.
“It’s been a really good day for us.”
City: Forster; R Martin, Doherty (c), Nelson, Rose; Smith (McNamee 64), Russell, Lappin; Hoolahan (Whitbread 76); C Martin, McDonald (Johnson 64)