If 40 really is the magic number, the Canaries tonight found themselves just four wins short of Premiership survival courtesy of a magnificent 2-1 away win at West Bromwich Albion.
Steve Morison’s 79th minute header delivered three more, huge away points as the Norfolk side cemented their place in the top half of the English Premier League and proved once again that between Morison and skipper Grant Holt they have more than enough front-line firepower to make a lasting mark in the top flight of English football.
The two paired up together for the winner; Holt’s marauding run and inviting cross proving meat and drink for the Welsh international as yet another header racked up yet another Premiership success.
Questions of what it will then take to move Norwich onto the next level – or rather the wages it would take to complete such an extraordinary transformation under Paul Lambert’s watch – were this evening put to one side as the Scot celebrated a big, away-day success.
The only sour note was the absence of young keeper Declan Rudd from the bench. He, it was revealed, has injured his ankle in training and is now likely to be sidelined for a couple of months.
England Youth international Jed Steer was, therefore, handed a place on the bench alongside Holt as Lambert paired Morison with Simeon Jackson up top.
“It’s a credit to the lads – they’ve been brilliant for me,” said Lambert afterwards, with just that one blip of late – the 2-0 home defeat by Spurs.
Otherwise, City have simply maintained the momentum, the belief and the confidence of the last two seasons. And with it, continue to move mountains.
“They continue to give me everything they have got,” added the Scot. “We might not win every game, but we certainly give it a go.
“And overall to come away from home and win against a really well-organised side was great.”
Morison’s winner was his third goal in the last three games; his ninth of the season. That return makes him a steal at £2.8 million off Millwall.
As important, however, was Andrew Surman’s opener all-but on the interval; a classic volleyed strike off a Wes Hoolahan assist. He now has three goals from his last five outings – a purple patch of scoring form from midfield as City look ever more at ease in amongst the mortal two-thirds of the top flight.
In between, however, came Shane Long’s 68th minute penalty as Daniel Ayala was adjudged to have fouled Jerome Thomas inside the City box. Certain old habits continue to die hard.
With Ayala continuing to partner Zak Whitbread in the middle, Lambert opted to ask Kyle Naughton to return at left-back; Russell Martin now re-installed at right-back. Once again a clean sheet might have proved beyond them; few will care given the fact it was Norwich carrying all three points back down the A14 tonight.
“It was terrific from Grant [Holt],” said Lambert, who once again made the decision to keep his talismanic club skipper pinned to the bench for the first hour or so.
“A good run down the left and he picks out Morison – it is still a terrific header because he’s still got an awful lot to do. It was a brilliant, brilliant goal from a lad that has been terrific for me.”
Tellingly, Lambert was not setting his sights on staying in the top half of the table between now and the end of May. His ambition remains what it was on August 1 – to still be in the Premier League some nine months later.
On current rate of progress, Norwich could achieve that ambition with a couple of months to spare – albeit it is Chelsea next up at Carrow Road.
“It’s not the top half – as long as I can stay above that bottom three, I’ll be delighted,” said Lambert.
“I’ve my own thoughts on how the team have been doing, but our main thing is to try and stay in this league.”