Second-half substitutes Chrissy Martin and Anthony McNamee inspired Norwich to a famous second-half revival after Martin Paterson’s first-half double threatened to end that famed, never a back-to-back defeat record.
Andrew Crofts’ 90th minute strike – amidst a furious welter of appeals for handball – sealed the come-back and a point from a 2-2 draw with Burnley, thus keeping City’s ‘bounce-back-ability’ ratings fully intact after Martin turned on the proverbial six-pence with a 71st minute goal of worthy note.
It was a class, two-touch strike that had the punters purring.
It was a lively last ten for Crofts; booked in the 84th minute, scored in the 90th; sent off in the 92nd for a second yellow. He could now face a two-match ban for his sins.
McNamee once again was one to light the blue touch paper with his arrival at the interval; he was darting inside and pinging a shot off the base of the post five minutes after Martin’s strike as City refused to kiss good-bye to that record without a fight.
And nor were the Carrow Road faithful; they swarmed into vocal battle with a vengence – memories of a pretty awful first-half performance erased by the passion of the second.
“The second-half I thought we were brilliant,” said City boss Paul Lambert. “I thought the game was pretty even; Burnley got the second game and their tails were up.
“But we hit the post in the second-half and I think we deserved it.”
His opinion on the referee’s performance wasn’t pretty.
“He was looking to get the cards that quickly, I thought he was a magician – I thought we had Paul Daniels out there. As soon as I saw who was refereeing the game, I thought it was going to be hard,” added the Canary chief, no fan of Trevor Kettle clearly.
It all helped bring the Carrow Road crowd to the boil.
“But when you galvanise the crowd like that… they are huge at this football club. They played their part today.”
City’s afternoon hit its first big hurdle in the 26th minute when Paterson’s first goal of the season rocked the Canaries back on their heels.
Fair play to the Clarets. It was a slick, simple move down the inside-right channel that unlocked the home defence. Tyrone Mears found himself on the by-line; his clipped pull back then found Paterson unmarked on the penalty spot and it was an easy finish into the bottom corner.
Till then Norwich had probably been ahead on points.
The second hurdle wasn’t long in coming. Seven minutes to be precise. Dean Marney’s simple through ball found the Canary back four looking in vain at first the far assistant and then eachother as Paterson skipped through alone.
John Ruddy’s best efforts proved all in vain as the striker’s shot proved to have just enough ‘legs’ on it to roll over the goal-line. Two-down and City’s bounce-back-ability was looking all rather flat. One proud record was teetering on the ropes.
By the time that Chris Eagles was running through his party pieces with a flick here; back heel there, Norwich had rolled off the ropes and onto the canvas; pretty much out for the count.
Simon Lappin had come closest to grabbing the opener just before the 20-minute mark as Russell Martin’s deep, right-wing cross found Lappin stooping low for a solid header which Lee Grant could only palm hurriedly away as the ball skidded up and almost over him.
It had all been bright and breezy enough, but that chance apart Grant had little to really test him. At the other end, Eagles offered one, early mazy run and a final shot that curled kindly into Ruddy’s arms.
The interval brought one change; Lappin paying the price for a diamond that rarely sparkled; McNamee arriving in his stead.
The City winger certainly picked up the pace of the occasion; twice cutting in off the right only to find a wall of claret shirts blocking either shot or cross.
Leon Barnett saw a far post header snaffled at the second attempt; David Fox arrived ten minutes to pack the Canary midfield better as Korey Smith disappeared off to right-back; Martin to left-back.
But it was Chrissy Martin who stole the show; his claim for a recall growing with every passing touch and minute. Ditto McNamee. Together they gave City all the pace and menace they lacked in those flat, flat 15 minutes before the break.