City boss Paul Lambert hailed a “brilliant” away performance at Preston this afternoon, as the Championship newcomers moved up to the dizzy heights of fourth place.
A simple Grant Holt side-footed finish in the 62nd minute was enough to seal all three points and to be truthful, the skipper should have had at least one before that – hitting the bar and post during the first period.
But after the Norwich chief admitted that last year’s goal hero Holt was still playing catch-up with his match-fitness, it was good to see the captain back amongst the action after a quiet couple of weeks.
Lambert’s opposite number Darren Ferguson – who now finds himself under considerable pressure after losing all but one of their opening seven contests – will have no complaints at the result.
And the Canary boss was a happy man afterwards, after an excellent team performance and a return to goalscoring ways for the skipper.
“I think that performance was up there with the Forest one and some of the football we played was excellent. We were brilliant today,” Lambert told BBC Radio Norfolk after the final whistle.
“It was massive goal for Grant. But since I’ve been at the football club he’s been huge for us and it was a terrific goal. Korey Smith did well to knock it back and it was a great finish. Grant hit the post and the bar as well and he was an absolute handful all afternoon.”
Today’s Deepdale success comes hot on the heels of Tuesday’s night’s 3-1 reverse at Doncaster and the way his team bounced straight back clearly pleased Lambert.
But he was also quick to point out that we should all look at the bigger picture from time to time. Two defeats on the bounce would hardly have been the end of the world.
“You’ve got to remember that we’ve come a long way,” continued the Scot. “We were languishing in League One and we’re now new to this league.
“The lads have done well to get here in the first place and we’re holding our own but we shouldn’t get carried away.
“People should remember the days when Norwich couldn’t really get a win and we’ve come a long way in a really short space of time. But we’re doing everything we can to keep the feeling from last year and we’ll try and give the fans some sort of success.
“We’ve had a brilliant start and I’ve been delighted with everybody at the football club. It took us nearly three days to get here but look at the support we’ve had today – it’s frightening.
“We’ve got absolutely brilliant support, travelling all that distance and hopefully we’ve given them something to enjoy. We’ll keep on going.”
The Canary boss made one change to his starting line-up, with Simon Lappin adding a bit more solidity to the midfield in place of Anthony McNamee. And it certainly paid dividends, with Lappin’s engine and classy left foot doing plenty of damage.
“Simon was terrific. His energy levels were great and whatever you say about him, he can get about a football pitch which is something you’ve got to have.
“He was tired the other day at home against Barnsley and I made the decision to bring Macca [McNamee] in the other night. But I brought Simon back in today and I thought he was brilliant.”
Preston chief Ferguson was understandably not quite as chirpy, and the son of Sir Alex – who was watching on this afternoon – had some harsh words for his players.
“It was a performance that was lacking in real confidence, energy and tempo,” he told the club’s official website. “Our passing was nowhere crisp enough or good enough.
“Within seven days we have gone from our best performance for some time to what we saw today and we are really short of confidence at the moment because of the results. When you put in good performances you have to get results.”
“I said to the players, we have got ourselves into the mess and no-one is going to help us get out of it. We can’t expect Norwich to come here and roll over easily; we have to get ourselves out of this.
“When they scored we ran out of ideas and lost all confidence.”
City: Ruddy; R Martin, Ward, Barnett, Drury; Crofts, Smith, Lappin; Hoolahan; Holt (Gill 90), C Martin (Jackson 80). Subs not used: Rudd, Fox, Johnson, McNamee, Askou.