Goal hero Michael Nelson admitted that it was a “brilliant” day for Norwich City in south east London, as the Canaries sealed their return to the Championship with a 1-0 victory at Charlton.
The former Hartlepool man’s 34th minute header from Simon Lappin’s corner proved to be enough and after Swindon could only manage a 1-1 draw with Walsall, City’s place in the second tier is now guaranteed.
The courageous victory in SE7 means that the Norfolk club have finally got over the finishing line and the scenes at the end were special for everyone of a yellow and green persuasion.
3,200 travelling supporters – and they could have sold many, many more tickets – went absolutely crazy when the final whistle was blown and you could argue that it was written in the stars after last season’s relegation at the same venue.
The Addicks threw everything at the league leaders in the second-half but Norwich held firm and Nelson revealed that he didn’t care who scored the winner, just as long as Paul Lambert’s men got the job done.
“It was nice to score the goal but what’s important is what it means to the team and the club as a whole. It’s brilliant,” he said afterwards, speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk.
“Promotion is what we set out to do in the first game and we’ve got there with three games to go – we can just chill out and relax now.
“It’s good that it has happened and it is done. I’d have taken an own goal today as long as we got the job done. I’m really pleased that I was the one to get the goal but I would have liked it to have been two or three to be honest, just so we could chill out a bit towards the end.”
There is no doubt that plenty of champagne corks will be popping in Norfolk tonight but for Nelson, the main emotion is relief, especially after the doubts crept in following that midweek loss at Leyton Orient.
“Everyone is just happy. There is a big sigh of relief and it’s done now. People have been talking about a blip but we haven’t lost two games in a row all season.
“It’s great, everyone’s happy and we’ll just relax now. We’ll get the point we need and hopefully win the league.
“They threw everything at us and we probably sat too deep to be honest. We should have pressed a bit higher but we managed to hold out and get the result we needed.
“Some of the fans had their say after 35-40 minutes of the first game of the season [1-7 against Colchester] but it just goes to show that you’ve got to be patient. Fair enough, they pay their money, but if you stick with us then we’ll show that we can get the job done.”
Even the player himself was gracious enough to concede that he wasn’t on top form at Brisbane Road on Tuesday. But despite the odd messageboard call to drop him, Lambert stuck by his trusted pair in defence today and it paid dividends.
And to be fair to the Canary chief, it’s not the first decision he has got right this season. The Scot deserves a lot of credit according to Nelson.
“It’s been a massive turnaround since he [Lambert] came in and I know he keeps putting the praise onto the players but him and his coaching staff have played a massive part.
“I wasn’t happy with the way I played on Tuesday and I was at fault for the second goal. I thought I owed the boys something and hopefully my goal today has paid them back.”