Canary defender Russell Martin found at least one positive out of Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Southampton – the arrival of Southend United in the city tomorrow night.
That, of course, gives Paul Lambert’s table-toppers the perfect opportunity to bounce right back to winning ways after Norwich’s recent unblemished home record came to an abrupt end against the Saints.
Going into Saturday’s game and Norwich were looking good to equal a club record of 12, consecutive home league wins.
Come five o’clock, however, and that run came to an end. As all good runs inevitably do.
The fact that the whole contest came to be over-shadowed by Darel Russell’s 64th minute dismissal couldn’t hide the fact that Norwich weren’t at their best – a fact lost on neither manager nor player afterwards.
High time to return to winning ways against the Shrimpers tomorrow night.
“It had to eventually – unfortunately it’s happened today,” said the City right back, as that pace-setting run came to an abrupt halt.
“We’re just disappointed,” he added. “We didn’t really turn up in the first-half. And then I think a bad decision has cost us in the second-half when we were chasing the game.”
It wasn’t the first decision that the players were left to feel aggrieved about; most were appealing for a push on Michael Nelson in the run-up to Saints’ opener. There again, most Southampton players were appealing for a goal as Rickie Lambert’s 35-yard free-kick cannoned down off the underside of the bar somewhere on and around Fraser Forster’s goal-line.
“The first goal we thought was a push,” said Martin, with Saints striker Lee Barnard about the only player to play to the whistle as he headed home his first of the afternoon into an empty net.
“But that’s one of them things – it goes against you and we’ve got to deal with it.
“But the second one – Rusty’s [Russell] not even seen the lad. He’s come from behind him and he’s actually got the ball first.
“For me, if it’s a red card then it’s got to be deliberate. But the referee has said that he’ll have a look. And, hopefully, common sense will prevail and it’ll get over-turned.”
City boss Paul Lambert wasn’t about to count any chickens on that front; the club may yet have to wait until as late as tomorrow lunch-time before they discover whether today’s appeal has been successful – or whether referee Russell Booth has stuck to his guns.
“If you haven’t seen the player, then you can’t deliberately hurt him,” argued his Canary team-mate.
“But it’s a decision that’s cost us hard; we’re chasing the game and, as you saw, it was really stretched at the end because we were still trying to get something out of the game.
“We were trying to get forward and conceded a second goal which was a bit too easy, really.
“But we still chased it. But it never really came off for us today; we never really got going today.
“And give them credit; they started well. They came here with a game plan and they’ve stopped us playing. But we’ve got to adapt to that.
“And we have done that really well when teams have come here and done that; unfortunately we didn’t work our way round that today. We didn’t match the tempo we usually set in the first-half.
“But still we go in one goal behind and we’re still in it; at half-time we still think we can win it. And then the decision is a disappointing one and we couldn’t get anything after that.
“So we’re a bit disappointed by that; but, hopefully, on Tuesday night we’ve got a chance to put that right.”
It is, in fairness, an ideal opportunity to right Saturday’s wrongs – with or without the luckless Russell. Saturday’s away trip to Oldham is not the most daunting of the season; Norwich have every opportunity to get back into that winning groove over the next six days.
“You don’t want a week to think about these things,” said the former Posh skipper, quizzed as to the benefits of having another game in such quick succession.
No time to brood and feel hard done by; that they might leave to Russell if the FA fail to heed the club’s appeal in the next 24 hours.
“We’re disappointed in ourselves – and I’m sure the fans are disappointed.
“So Tuesday can’t come round quick enough. You don’t want to be up the training ground for a week thinking about it – we can now focus on Tuesday and forget about it.”
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