The big question of the night? Could events really have gone any better for Paul Lambert’s Canaries this evening?
For if their own 3-2 away win at Leicester City were not good enough, by the time the results from elsewhere this evening were fully digested, so it became very apparent that the footballing gods had smiled on the Norfolk side big-time.
A defeat or a draw for Leeds United away at bottom-of-the-table Preston North End might have been nice; instead of the 2-1 win for the Whites.
While maybe Malky Mackay could have done his former employers more of a favour by nicking all three points out of Swansea’s hands at The Liberty Stadium instead of just the one in that 1-1 draw.
But, in fairness, they were minor quibbles.
Fresh from their shock home defeat by Hull City at the weekend, Nottingham Forest’s recent wobbles continued tonight with a 2-1 defeat at Sheffield United.
Cardiff City – on the wrong end of a Jimmy Bullard double on Saturday – slipped up again with a 1-0 defeat away at Crystal Palace and that duly helped the Canaries enormously; even leaders QPR managed to lose 2-0 away at Millwall.
All of which left City joint second in the table tonight; mere goal difference denying them that second, automatic promotion spot.
The fact that Aaron Wilbraham finally managed to break his Canary goal-scoring duck with the night’s third goal merely added the icing on the cake.
By when Norwich were cruising to an easy victory; Paul Gallagher’s free-kick for Leicester’s second came with virtually the last kick of the game. Norwich were home and hosed by then.
It was, in short, a very good night to be a Canary supporter as the Lambert bandwagon rolled ever on.
Or rather picked up speed as the manager saluted the finest team performance since he joined the club 19 short months ago.
“That’s as good as I’ve seen us play since we joined here 19 months ago,” the manager told the club’s official website afterwards.
It was, in fairness, Leicester’s first home defeat since September 18th. It left the Canaries seven points clear of Burnley in seventh spot.
It is going to require quite a collapse for the Norfolk side to finish outside the play-off places – in itself a remarkable achievement in their first season back in the second tier of English football.
“We’ve got ten games to go and we’ve got a real chance,” added Lambert, swift to add a ‘but…’ “But so have QPR, Swansea, Cardiff, Forest, Leicester and anyone else who has a mathematical chance.”
The Canary chief was also at pains to pay tribute to Wes Hoolahan who – as requested on Saturday night – picked himself up from that penalty disaster and meted out his disappointment on the Foxes.
“I thought he was unplayable out there tonight – I didn’t think Leicester could get near him,” Lambert told the official site.
“And he got a goal as well which is really pleasing because he’s been brilliant for us over the course of the season and he really deserves it.”
The game had one or two notable firsts – not least a Hoolahan header direct from an Andrew Surman corner for the game’s opening goal.
And a Grant Holt spot-kick for the second. Not the first of his career, but the first of late.
Wesley might have won the penalty off a Matt Oakley challenge, but after Saturday’s fun and games from the penalty spot, so the skipper took charge and stepped up to bag his 17th goal of a remarkable, individual season.
And fears that luckless American centre-half Zak Whitbread might be side-lined for another lengthy spell after his awkward fall in that 1-1 draw with Preston North End likewise proved unfounded.
He started – and finished – tonight’s contest at the Walker’s Stadium.
As was said at the start, it was a very good night for the Canaries.
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