Chrissy Martin’s sixth goal of the season proved decisive at Pride Park this weekend as the Canaries powered ever deeper into that play-off pack with a 2-1 win over Derby County.
It took the Norfolk side to fourth in the Championship table and completed a memorable week for boss Paul Lambert following last Sunday’s 4-1 derby demolition over neighbours Ipswich.
Their fortunes continue to go into reverse; a 3-1 home defeat by Swansea left them 17th in the table and heading south for the winter – Carling Cup semi-final date with Arsenal notwithstanding.
David Fox’s shot set the ball rolling this weekend as it first deflected off a hapless Shaun Barker and then through the grasp of Rams keeper Frank Fielding.
Martin would convert a Simon Lappin cross to double Norwich’s early advantage, before Kris Commons hauled the home side back into the contest.
Thereafter, the Canaries stood firm and withstood all that the home side could muster for three big, big points on their travels.
It puts them in a fine frame of mind heading into that busy Christmas period; they could yet charge into that January transfer window knowing that a top six finish is their’s to lose.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first-half especially,” said Lambert, his two-match touchline ban imposed after the fracas with the fourth official at Reading having now yielded a full six points off the back of two, stirring performances.
Perhaps he should stay away from the touchline more often as the Canaries continue to confirm the impression that they will be there or thereabouts come May.
“With the crowd that they’ve got and the team that they’ve got, you’re not going to get on the front foot here,” the Canary chief told BBC Radio Norfolk.
Nevertheless, as Rams boss Nigel Clough would admit afterwards, it was the visitors who took to the game first; they were swifter out of the blocks and having got their noses in front, in the likes of a Fox and an Andrew Crofts have the sort of midfield players who can dig in and defend for the next 70-odd minutes.
Fox proving that he’s no slouch going forward either as Lambert let him off the rein somewhat.
“I’ve never been one to go away from home, to bed ourselves in and try and consolidate – I’ve always been one to try and get hold of the game,” Lambert explained.
“And I think that the crowd that we bring we have to get on the front foot; they come a hell of a long way to watch us and it’s up to us to try and give them something.”
Having a Henri Lansbury and a Wes Hoolahan in your side from the start likewise ensures that the onus tends to be on passing the ball forward.
“We’ve got a lot of attacking players in the side and I think David Fox is on top of his game at the moment,” said Lambert. “He’s going to be a top player – so the players that we have got are really offensive.”
They are also adaptable as the famed diamond was given a new-look; Lambert more than happy to shuffle his mid-field pack in order to keep the likes of his opposite number Clough guessing.
The one downside was a yellow card for skipper Grant Holt – his fifth.
That now ensures an automatic ban.
“I said to him – that was a silly booking,” said Lambert, who brought Owain Tudur Jones right back in from the cold to make a late appearance off the bench following his recent loan spell at Yeovil.
“He’s never once caused me any bother – he needed games. And that’s why we sent him out.”
He had one final word for the supporters who had braved the wintry conditions to urge their heroes on.
“That’s what makes the club special – the fan base. You can forget everything else – it’s the players and the fans that actually keep this club going.”
Clough’s thoughts were, by contrast, rather darker after the Rams’ recent unstoppable home form came to a sudden and probably – from his perspective – unexpected end.
Their slow start to the contest troubled Brian’s boy.
“The two centre-halves didn’t start the game for the first half an hour, really,” said Clough afterwards, after Barker’s deflected own goal set the Canaries on their way.
Sitting too deep was the charge laid at their door, as Dean Leacock joined his pal Barker in the dock.
“Whilst the first goal was unfortunate, the second one is certainly down to them. Usually we’ve been on the front foot, but the two centre-halves weren’t today.
“And it’s difficult when you’ve got seven or eight going one way and the two centre-halves not going anywhere – or moving the other way.”