City boss Paul Lambert admitted that the league leaders have given themselves “a bit of daylight” at the top of League One after Chris Martin’s late header secured all three points against Leeds yesterday.
The 1-0 victory after a pulsating, if a little cagey, encounter at Carrow Road takes the Canaries a whopping 11 points clear of the Yorkshire giants in second with just eight games left.
And it would take an almighty collapse for them not to secure promotion back to the Championship sooner rather than later.
Lambert was certainly in good spirits afterwards and while you’ll never get him admitting that Norwich are as good as up, even he must be able to see the finishing line now.
“We’ve given ourselves a bit of daylight; we’ve still got four home games left and we’ve given ourselves a bit of a chance,” said the Scot after yesterday’s crucial success.
“The lads gave me everything, absolutely everything. From the day I walked in the door they have been absolutely terrific for me.
“I can’t ask for anything more and at times they’ve been running on empty. The club has had a few barren years as you probably know and I’m delighted for the fans.
“But it was a really tough game. Leeds are a really good side and they’re still sitting second. But the expectancy levels at their club are the same as ours and people expect them to win more games than not.
“There was never any doubt that it was going to be tough – they are a really good side and they’ve got a terrific fan base themselves.”
The Canary chief made a couple of big calls before kick-off yesterday, with Adam Drury coming back in for the unlucky Michael Rose and Stephen Elliott replacing eventual hero Martin.
But the gamble paid off in the end and Lambert was delighted with Drury’s contribution, with the left-back as solid as ever.
Big games often need big characters and fellow seasoned campaigner Gary Doherty was also outstanding in defence, keeping Jermaine Beckford at bay all afternoon. Those two, in particular, really stepped up to the plate.
“Gary Doherty was first class. I thought him and Adam Drury were great. It was a big call to bring Adam back because Michael Rose has been doing well but he was great and Gary was immense.
“I think him and Michael Nelson have been terrific together for a long time now and the back four as a unit were excellent.”
There were great scenes at Carrow Road after Martin’s late clincher and it almost felt like the moment when everyone finally realised that promotion is now a formality.
But to fair, the place was rocking from minute one – with Leeds’ 2,200 followers playing their part in a tremendous occasion – and you could tell that Lambert thrives in that sort of atmosphere. Some fans were even comparing it to that famous night in 1993 when Bayern Munich came to town.
“Oh for heaven’s sake yes [it was a great atmosphere] – that’s what you call proper football. It’s a terrific thing to generate and I’d rather have that pressure than not.”
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