At the risk of repeating myself, Norwich City’s 3-1 win at Huddersfield last weekend was absolutely pivotal and the Canaries are taking giant steps towards promotion with every passing week.
Even the most ardent Ipswich Town supporter would have to admit that Norwich are almost home and dry and both sides of the River Waveney should have an East Anglian derby (that’s the real derby by the way Colchester) to look forward to in 2010/11.
Last Saturday’s set of results turned out to be a double whammy for the chasing pack, as Leeds, Charlton and the U’s all suffered defeats on the road. With a seven-point gap to the second-placed Whites and a whopping 12 to Charlton in third, it will surely take a miracle for City not to be promoted now.
The win over the Terriers was typical of a team full of confidence and riding the crest of a wave – it’s quite remarkable how far momentum can take you. But make no mistake, this Canaries outfit have too much steel and too much class for League One.
The Galpharm Stadium club hadn’t been beaten all season on their home patch and despite a sluggish first half, the league leaders upped the ante after the break to claim the three points. And when you’ve got the likes of Republic of Ireland international Stephen Elliott to come on and grab you a couple of goals, you’re always going to be a threat.
If you add Cody McDonald and Oli Johnson to the attacking mix, defences in the third tier are always going to find it a struggle to keep a clean sheet. Even when Norwich haven’t been at their fluent best, they’ve always looked like finding the back of the net.
The run of form City have been on is quite staggering and if you study the results, there have been no draws since the middle of December. With only two defeats in that period, it just shows how many three-point hauls the team have managed.
And that is the key in this league – or any league to be honest. Boss Paul Lambert has taken a punt on many occasions this season and the Scot knows that (three) points mean prizes.
And after a difficult few years in Norfolk, culminating in relegation last year, bouncing back at the first attempt would be a very sweet prize indeed.
The bravery in his decision making has been one of the standout qualities so far and the match that shines brightest in the memory is that 1-0 win over Brentford.
With Grant Holt sent off just before the break, Lambert could have shut up shop and accepted a point. But off came Russell Martin and the Canaries boss opted for a 3-4-2 formation; the rest, as they say, is history.
The Carrow Road clash with Southend at the end of last month is another great example. With the table-toppers a goal down and only 20 minutes left on the clock, Lambert threw on Oli Johnson and at one point, with Wes Hoolahan pushing on, Norwich had a four-man attack.
Again, it paid dividends with Johnson’s last-minute heroics earning a 2-1 victory and on that occasion – and against the Bees – the gung-ho approach galvanised both the players and the crowd.
The win over Brentford, courtesy of those courageous tactics, put City top of League One. And as I’m sure you’ve noticed, they haven’t budged since.