Tranmere Rovers boss Les Parry hailed his unlikely heroes after the Merseysiders beat City 3-1 on a controversial Good Friday evening at Prenton Park.
Rovers took a sixth minute lead via a debatable Ian Thomas-Moore penalty after the ball struck Darel Russell on the arm, but the real sickener for the table-toppers was Tranmere’s third, with Craig Curran clearly handballing it, ironically, before slotting home from 10 yards.
Sandwiched in between that was the dismissal of Canaries goalkeeper Fraser Forster for bringing down Thomas-Moore in the box, before the same player netted his second spot kick. But in fairness, much-maligned referee Eddie Ilderton probably got that one right.
Grant Holt pulled one back for the league leaders in the second period but it was too little too late and there was even more drama when Paul Lambert was sent to the stands for coming onto the field of play.
But his opposite number Parry did not care one jot – all he was concerned about was his players and the shift they put in. And as the Rovers boss-cum-physio predicted, they were ‘up for it’.
“Every single player gave 110% tonight and they had to because Norwich are a class act,” he said, speaking to WirralNews.co.uk after the live Sky encounter.
“We had a little sit down this week and looked at how we’ve been playing and we decided to get back to the way we played to get ourselves out of trouble – that meant closing, squeezing and fighting and we did that.
“Their keeper made some fabulous saves, while Ash Taylor missed a free header and Chris McCready saved one on the line. Apart from the decisions that gave us goals we also created a hell of a lot ourselves.”
The two-goal hero was Thomas-Moore – a former City transfer target during his time at Stockport – and Parry paid tribute to his skipper, who notched the 100th and 101st league goals of his career.
“I didn’t realise until before the game that Ian was on 99. It’s a tremendous achievement and I thought our front three worked their socks off.
“Despite his knee blowing up Ian was keen to play at Brighton last week and it was hard to stop him playing but we had to because we’ve got the whole season to think about.
“The rest we gave him allowed it to settle down completely and you’ve seen the benefit of that tonight.”
Meanwhile, Stockport chief Gary Ablett has labelled tomorrow’s opponents Norwich as a “fantastic side”, despite City’s 3-1 reverse on Merseyside.
The Carrow Road top versus bottom clash is an excellent opportunity for Lambert’s men to bounce back and Ablett knows his almost relegated outfit will be up against it in Norfolk.
“They’re a fantastic side – probably the best in our division,” he told BBC Radio Manchester. “But I thought we gave them a good game at Edgeley Park and the 3-1 scoreline flattered them.
“It probably won’t be a physical game as they like to get it down and play and we’ve got to be able to match that. We’ve got to be competitive and we’ll go there and enjoy the day.
“It will tell me more about my players in front of 25,000 people – let’s see who can play in that type of atmosphere and go and enjoy it and express themselves.
“I don’t want them to be known as a training team. They’ve been first class for me in-between games but we’ve got to translate that to a matchday.”