March 10 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, March 17, 2013
After Southampton eight days earlier, it didn’t look like Norwich City’s failure to capitalise on their late good fortune would prove too costly.
Grant Holt’s last-minute penalty being saved may have been the difference between the top half and a more nervy look to the Premier League table, but all seemed well enough. However as yesterday’s encounter reached the halfway mark and Sunderland threatened to take full advantage of the decisions coming their way, you wondered if the previous weekend’s squandered spot kick would haunt them.
So the fact the Canaries held out for a point and even threatened to take all three on Wearside proved as valuable as a win – owing everything to their determination and desire, and it will leave the City support feeling a lot happier about how the remaining eight matches of the campaign will pan out.
Be it Mark Bunn’s collision with the ball outside his area, Sebastien Bassong’s miscalculation in front of an offside Black Cats striker or Danny Rose being airborne as his arm blocked Russell Martin’s cross – City kept it together when others around them were booing in frustration.
The final whistle was greeted by chants and cheers from City’s impressive following. The Stadium of Light was half empty – those who had stayed, clearly did so make their displeasure at the hosts’ plight audible at referee Chris Foy’s last duty on the pitch.
“I think to be honest, if we stay 11 v 11 we go and win the game; absolutely no doubt,” smiled Martin. “I think we were well on top. The crowd had maybe turned a little bit against them. They were a little bit nervous and the sending off has given them a little bit of a leg up.
“But after that you have still seen we have given them a right good go and probably created the better chances.
“To say that we could get a point before the game we would have taken it, but in the circumstances we got it, to play 60-odd minutes with 10 men, it’s a massive point, because they could have caught up with us.
“In the grand scheme of things, for us it could be one of biggest points we got yet.”
So what of the big moments? Martin was close to most of the action, and does not feel City got the rub of the green – even if they did cope with what was thrown at them so well.
“At the time I thought maybe it’s not deliberate (by Mark Bunn) but the letter of the law says if he handles it outside his area then as the last man, he has got to go,” Martin added.
“And that’s just unfortunate for Mark. He has been brilliant for us and it’s just a tough decision that’s gone against us.
“But for me the other two could have gone our way. Danny Rose is inside the area when he handballs it. And the Seb one, for me I could see across the whole line and (Steven) Fletcher is a good couple of yards offside and he’s come back into play.
“I had a chat with the linesman at half-time and he said he wasn’t sure how much he was interfering with play but for me he’s affected how Seb has had to deal with the ball.
“I’m still not sure if it’s hit his arm or not – he doesn’t seem to think it has – but they’ve gone against us and we’ve dealt with it. You have that in football. Hopefully it evens itself out over the course of a season, and it’s really tough for the officials. They only have a split second to make a big decision and it didn’t go our way.
“But like I said, the reaction from the boys was immense.”