Matt Howman: Derby day joy underlines the superb work of Daniel Farke
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Derby day. Pressure, tension and excitement.
A game tighter than squeezing down Earlham Road in rush hour and showing less class than a Saturday night down Prince of Wales. Then up steps James Maddison to bury a sublime winner, priceless.
In-form Norwich City showed class, composure and a resilience in defence which has been so lacking in previous seasons to show once more why we are the best team this side of the country.
The slender 0-1 win stretched Norwich's unbeaten run in the East Anglian derby to nine games, with Mick McCarthy left ruing another so-so performance lacking in guile and conviction.
Local derbies are often hailed as games where anything can happen and inevitably the old adages will be thrown around – 'form goes out of the window' being the flagship soundbite for pundits.
MORE: Michael Bailey and the six things he learned from another derby winThis was the test for our defence so to come out with another clean sheet just underlines the superb work Daniel Farke and the coaches have done to firm up our back four.
Since our two back-to-back heavy losses at the hands of Aston Villa and Millwall way back in August, Farke's guys have conceded just two league goals.
The reintroduction of the ever-assured Timm Klose following injury has proven to be an immense boost to the team.
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Coupled with the tactical switch to two holding midfielders, Norwich now look a much more robust outfit, showing form that should now keep us in touch with the play-off places throughout a busy Christmas period.
When we look back at Sunday's performance or across any in September and early October, the performances of Tom Trybull, Harrison Reed and Alex Tettey before he picked up an unfortunate injury should not go unnoticed in the importance it has had on our recent form.
The work they do across the pitch will never be as memorable as the goals Maddison has been contributing, but their intelligence to control the pace and tempo of the game, get stuck into tackles and break up opposition attacks gives the team the impetus to attack and the likes of Wes Hoolahan and Maddison the freedom to affect the game higher up the pitch.
Marco Stiepermann is another player who has been a breath of fresh air at left-back. Husband has found it difficult to patch together a run of consistent performances but Stiepermann has kept him out of the team with his bursting runs and endeavour to support an attack down the wing.
Together their presence was definitely felt by the Ipswich players who time and time again found it difficult to break through the middle of the pitch.
MORE: James Maddison is feeling the love of fansOn the odd occasion they did manage to forge an opportunity, David McGoldrick showed the conviction of a broken Subbuteo player with his elastic-band of a right foot and sent the ball flying wide.
The only area of weakness that showed for Norwich was the missing Nelson Oliveira. Cameron Jerome continued to give his all but there's rarely a something out of nothing moment with him, no game-changing presence.
With Oliveira in the side it gives us an added dimension, defenders take a step back and you know that if he collects the ball 18-20 yards from goal that more often than not he will shift his body and get a decent shot away.
Rivalry aside, Ipswich was on-paper the easiest game for Norwich in October. The upcoming games against fellow promotion hopefuls Derby and especially Wolves are going to be the true tests for our squad and Sunday's result will leave the players brimming with confidence.
Farke may be hesitant to praise his young players in the media but quietly he will be ecstatic with some of the individual performances of late.
As he reminded us not so long ago, most of the squad has little to no Championship experience before the start of the season. He's quickly making a name for himself as a manager and who knows, perhaps he can tick Wembley off his list of grounds in May...