Norwich boss Paul Lambert is remaining positive, despite the Canaries suffering their second defeat of the season at Doncaster Rovers last night.
Despite a second-half City rally with Donny two goals to the good, the 3-1 scoreline was probably a fair enough reflection on proceedings, with the visitors taking a while to get into gear.
It was a sluggish first-half performance and James Coppinger gave Sean O’Driscoll’s side the lead after 14 minutes, although to be fair it was a hell of a strike from around 30 yards.
Rovers continued to have the best of it and they took a 2-0 lead just after the break, when a mix-up between returning ‘keeper John Ruddy and Leon Barnett allowed Coppinger to net his second with a tap-in.
But as we’ve seen in the past, it proved to be the catalyst for a Canary charge, and they got themselves back into the contest on 64 through a diving Russell Martin header. Game on.
Lambert’s men pressed and could have levelled through a Chris Martin free-kick that was well saved and an Andrew Crofts header that almost crept in. But two minutes from the end, a Coppinger free-kick was cruelly deflected in off the City wall and that, was that.
The second-half fightback gave the Canary chief plenty of heart, however, even if the first period wasn’t anything to write home about.
“We came here and had a right good go and I thought in the second-half we were excellent,” he told BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham afterwards.
“The second goal gave us a mountain to climb but I was delighted with the response, getting a goal back and I thought we were on the ascendancy from there.
“The third goal? Well that can happen right at the death of a game. But I can’t ask for any more than they gave me in the second-half.
“We played in fits and starts in the first-half but the first goal was a wonder goal – you can’t stop that. Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hand up and say it’s a brilliant strike.
“They’re a really good side and there have been teams who have come here and taken beatings from them but I thought we were right in the game until the third one went in.”
With 10 points from their first six games, City are still on the right track and Lambert highlighted Doncaster’s impressive home form over recent years as a reason not to panic.
After all, Norwich are in and amongst that play-off pack already and only sit outside the top six on goal difference. It’s hardly a bad start to life back in the Championship is it?
“No it’s not. We are new to this league and Doncaster are established – they’ve beaten many teams up here. You can’t tell me we’re going to play brilliantly every single game – it’s very tough to do.
“There are times when you find it hard and you have to defend for your life to get through and I can’t be over-critical because they have given me everything.
“The ‘keeper has made a good save from Chrissy’s free-kick and Crofty’s header was cleared off the line. But you can’t give teams like Doncaster a two-goal start.
“As I’ve said, I can’t be over-critical; I thought in the second-half we were excellent and with a bit of luck we might have scraped an equaliser.”
For Lambert’s opposite number, it was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from Rovers in his opinion. But he was happy to defeat a City side that will “have no problems in this division.”
“I’ve just told our website that when we were good, we were very good and when we were poor, we were certainly poor,” O’Driscoll told the BBC.
“When we were good we scored some good goals and when we were poor we managed to keep Norwich out. We can do better and we had a spell where we made some poor decisions.
“On another day they would have made us pay dearly but we’ve beaten a good team – they are no mugs. I saw them twice last season and they were excellent; they’ll have no problems in this division.”
City: Ruddy; R Martin, Ward, Barnett, Drury; McNamee, Smith (Hughes 86), Crofts, Hoolahan; C Martin, Holt (Johnson 80). Subs not used: Rudd, Askou, Fox, Lappin, Jackson.