City striker Simeon Jackson hailed last night’s derby win as an ‘outstanding result’ as Paul Lambert’s Canaries soared to new heights of fame and, potentially, Premier League fortune.
The 24-year-old Canadian bagged his fifth goal in as many games in that 5-1 demolition of the oldest of enemies – a stunning result that swept the Norfolk side back into second spot ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures and left Ipswich in a state of embarrassed disbelief as the neighbours ran riot in their own backyard.
Cardiff could, of course, leap-frog back over the Canaries should they win their game against title-hopefuls QPR tomorrow.
Before then, Reading travel to Leeds United to put their record of nine straight wins back on the line. All four teams – QPR, Cardiff, Leeds and Reading – know they now have a hard act to follow after the Canaries set the standard at Portman Road.
‘Follow that!’ would be the message from the City dressing room as they now turn their thoughts to the heroes’ welcome that will await back at Carrow Road for the Easter Monday home clash with Derby County.
“That’s an outstanding result for us – especially coming before the games that are played this weekend,” Jackson told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
His own, individual star is firmly in the ascendancy again after a difficult mid-season. But as Canary skipper Grant Holt gingerly steers his hamstring towards the finishing line, so Jackson has stepped right up to the plate and delivered the big goals on the big occasions.
At 2-0, the next goal was always likely to win it – hence the importance of Jackson’s strike last night after being teed up to perfection by his strike partner Holt.
“I think [this result] just shows how good we are,” said the former Gills striker, in the happy position of keeping Spanish Under-21 striker Dani Pacheco confined to the bench as his form blossoms at the moment Norwich needed it most.
“And it’s always brilliant to score goals – especially in front of the fans in a derby as well,” he added.
“But it was always about the result and to score five goals away from home in a derby? Unreal.”
There is, no doubt, that the next fortnight will deliver yet more twists and turns; in every likelihood, Norwich will still have to go into that final game of the season at home to Coventry needing something from that game to deliver the prize of Premiership football back in Norfolk next season.
And all courtesy of back-to-back promotion campaigns, to boot. Little wonder that many a long-serving fan is liking this period in the club’s history to the glory, glory days of Mike Walker and Europe – such was the magnitude and meaning of last night’s glorious derby success.
All of a sudden, however, with that game out of the way, two home games against Derby and Coventry with a trip to Portsmouth sandwiched in between doesn’t look overly taxing. Far better that than the away trip to Burnley that Cardiff have to face on the final day of the season.
“It’s brilliant to play in this team,” said Jackson, a feeling he no doubt shares with at least 20 others.
“We create loads of chances and we keep the ball well, we pass it and we’re scoring goals.
“And as a player you live for these kind of games; the fans have been magnificent all season, so to be able to do it for them here is unreal.”
These are pinch-yourself times to be a Norwich fan. Few ever really believed that they would have the legs to continue their charge right into the final fortnight of the season.
Boss Lambert was right; this is a team playing with ‘No fear!’ – there is no evidence that the nerves are starting to jangle.
Indeed, if anything last night’s result and performance suggested that City were picking up the pace as the finishing line loomed ever closer. They can’t quite reach out and touch it yet, but the legs remain willing – the spirits now soaring on the back of that remarkable scoreline.
“We’re not really fussed as to what anyone else is doing,” said Jackson.
“We’re just focussed on what we’re going to be doing over these next three games. Three more left and we’re just going to try and keep this momentum up and see where it gets us.”