City boss Paul Lambert hailed an accomplished Norwich performance as a goal apiece for the ‘Three Musketeers’ saw off Yeovil at Carrow Road this afternoon.
An early strike from the outstanding Wes Hoolahan and two from Grant Holt and Chrissy Martin after the break sealed the contest and even though the Glovers were stubborn for long periods, there really was only one team in it from start to finish.
With second placed Leeds only managing a 1-1 home draw with Brentford, the Canaries’ lead at the top is now a whopping seven points with just eleven games remaining.
And Lambert was absolutely delighted with his players once again, admitting they were at the top of their game against the Somerset side.
“I thought we were excellent,” he told reporters afterwards. “I think at this moment in time we’re on top of our game which is pleasing at a vital point in the season.
“We’re playing really well at the minute which helps us and I’m delighted with everybody. They’ve been excellent and the turnaround has been a monumental effort.
“To be fair to Yeovil, they’ve had some really good results on the road and it’s never easy and we had to play well to win.”
Any number of players could have bagged the man-of-the-match award, with Holt – the eventual recipient – Korey Smith and Gary Doherty all outstanding.
For what it’s worth, however, my pick would have been Hoolahan, whose trickery and incisive passing was a world away from League One standards at times.
And he certainly benefitted from a more central role, bossing proceedings from the engine room with Simon Lappin adopting a wider role.
The former Blackpool man wasn’t shy of a tackle or two either and the Canary chief was clearly pleased with Hoolahan’s performance.
“He’s got a terrific left foot and I just think that it’s good if we can get him down the centre of the pitch. We had to change the system a little bit and I thought he was brilliant, along with Korey Smith who was also terrific.”
It was a dream start for City with a goal after just two minutes and it immediately settled the crowd, with the home faithful desperate for another three-point haul.
The dangerous Anthony McNamee whipped in a great corner and Hoolahan was on hand to tap in after Holt’s header hit the Glovers’ bar.
It was all City at this point and their next decent chance came ten minutes later when it was Martin’s turn to have a go. But his powerful shot from Holt’s cross went just over.
The skipper was certainly making himself busy and on 17, he fired another effort at ‘keeper Alex McCarthy and to be fair to the Glovers man, he did well to hold onto his rasping shot.
The former Nottingham Forest forward was at it again later on in the half when he headed narrowly over from a corner but City were finding it hard to penetrate a stubborn Yeovil backline.
How the first period ended at just 1-0 though is anyone’s guess as on the stroke of half-time, Holt missed an absolute sitter and a chance to make Lambert’s half-time team talk a lot more comfortable.
The 28-year-old played a neat one-two with tormentor-in-chief Hoolahan and when he took it around the ‘keeper it had goal written all over it.
But somehow, he shot wide with McCarthy nowhere. Terry Skiverton’s men had had a lucky escape.
As expected, the Canaries started the second-half brightly and with the crowd a little louder than they had been in the first 45, hopes were high of a second goal in the contest.
But Yeovil were working their socks off and City had to wait until the 66th minute for their next real chance. It was, however, almost worth waiting for.
After the two teams played pinball on the edge of the box, it fell to Lappin and his beautifully weighted chip almost crept in – yet again, credit must go to the visiting goalkeeper.
With Yeovil tiring though, City sniffed blood and the elusive second came three minutes later through talisman Holt.
Glovers stopper McCarthy, who had performed admirably, failed to deal with McNamee’s cross and when his attempted punch fell to the Norwich skipper, he made no mistake from six yards to make it 26 for the season.
The visitors were always going to struggle to get back into it from there but their fate was sealed on 76 minutes when Martin got in on the act to put those Canary jitters to bed once and for all.
The tireless Holt managed to muscle off the Yeovil backline and duly fed the Beccles-born striker who made no mistake with a right-footed shot, even if it did squirm under McCarthy’s body.
The league leaders saw the game out with ease and with Hoolahan pulling the strings, City always looked threatening.
But 3-0 it stayed and it was another extremely satisfying afternoon for Lambert and Co. With eleven games left, you wouldn’t back against the Canaries now.
City: Forster; R Martin, Doherty, Nelson, Rose; McNamee, Hoolahan (Gill 87), Smith, Lappin; Holt (Johnson 78), C Martin (Elliott 78). Subs not used: Rudd, Spillane, Hughes, McVeigh.