City boss Paul Lambert praised his side’s never-say-die attitude, despite the Canaries crashing out of the Carling Cup with a 3-1 defeat at Blackburn.
In truth, it was fairly comfortable for Rovers and a hat-trick from Manchester United loanee Mame Biram Diouf was more than enough to see the Premier League side through.
But Norwich played well in parts, despite making seven changes to Saturday’s line-up, and Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson were a threat for most of the evening. Add Jens Berthel Askou’s 90th minute consolation goal and you can tell that it wasn’t all one-way traffic.
“The important thing was that we kept on going,” said the Canary chief, speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk after the Ewood Park encounter.
“Their keeper has had to make some decent saves. I know they hit the bar and post and they are a threat because of the size of them. But we did OK.
“I thought it was quite an even game up until they scored and I can’t fault the lads for their effort and endeavour. We keep on going and the players have a great attitude for the game.
“We’ve got a desire to keep going – I think we’ve got that in abundance. Even if we are getting outplayed at times we don’t capitulate and that is always the case.
“Some of our stuff was pretty decent and both George Francomb and Declan Rudd coming in were excellent – that was pleasing.”
Rovers’ opener, which came after 29 minutes, was classic route one football after a long Morten Gamst Pedersen throw found its way to Diouf, via the head of Chris Samba.
And Lambert was disappointed with the manner in which Sam Allardyce’s side opened the scoring. From there, it was always going to be a tough road back.
“The goals we gave away were poor and set pieces are vital when you come here. We knew Blackburn had the long throw and it’s not always the first header that’s a problem, it’s the second one. That’s what happened for their first goal.”
Lambert made several alterations to his side, with David Fox, Simeon Jackson, Francomb, Rudd, Simon Lappin, Askou and Matt Gill all coming into the starting line-up.
And the Scot hinted that the performances of a few may give him the odd headache between now and Notts Forest (a) on Saturday afternoon.
“When you give someone a chance they always give you a problem. As a manager you want lads to come in and do that to the ones who have been performing very well for us of late.”
One of the enforced changes was Askou replacing Michael Nelson and Lambert revealed that the City defender could be out of action for “a while”, after he suffered ankle ligament damage in the 2-0 win over Swansea at the weekend.
“He’ll be out for a while which is not great for us at the minute. It’s a big blow because he’s been outstanding recently and both Michael and Elliott Ward have been terrific.”
Meanwhile, Allardyce was delighted with his team’s performance, with Diouf the obvious hero. On this evidence, the United striker – who is with Rovers for the season – could be a real hit in the top flight.
“A hat-trick for one of our players is always very encouraging and hopefully he can start doing that in the Premier League,” said ‘Big Sam’, speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph.
“He could have had five in the end and the easiest one he missed by putting on the bar, but it is the lovely positions he takes.
“The first goal he drifts off to the far post and gets himself unmarked and waits for the flick before tapping it in. The third one he pulls away unmarked and Morten floats in a great cross and he really couldn’t miss that one.
“He does look natural by the fact he drifts into the right positions – that is not coachable. You can try and tell them where to go but unless you have a natural instinct to do it it doesn’t really happen.”
City: Rudd; Francomb, Askou, Ward, R Martin (Hughes 72); Fox, Gill, Lappin; Hoolahan (McNamee 68); Holt (Johnson 67), Jackson. Subs not used: C Martin, Ruddy, K Smith, Surman.