Tackle by Bennett epitomised Norwich City players’ attitude and desire
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
If ever there was a moment for coaches throughout the land to play back to their players as proof they should never give in, it came during the second half of Norwich City's victory against West Bromwich Albion last night.
For those who weren't present, Irish winger James McClean appeared clean through on goal and about to enter the area for what looked like a routine finish to make it 1-1, when from out of nowhere up popped City centre-half Ryan Bennett to stretch his leg out and hook the ball to safety.
It was the second time in as many games a defensive tackle by a Canary defender has got me and many other supporters off our seats to celebrate almost as much as if it were a goal.
But both moments epitomise the do-or-die attitude that is currently coursing through the veins of this squad under Alex Neil, inset.
And what was really pleasing about last night's victory was to have it confirmed that even the fringe players appear to have been buoyed in confidence and quality from working with the Scot.
You may also want to watch:
So many times as Norwich fans we've been used to turning up for early season Capital One Cup games like this to witness a group of players struggle to find any kind of form or flow and drift out of the competition in disappointing fashion.
For the first half an hour or so it looked a little bit like that may be the case, but a few chances towards the end of the half were the first signs City were finding their feet.
- 1 Machinery sale marks end of family's 100-year farming history
- 2 'Max Factor lady' - Tributes to adored gran who died in M11 layby
- 3 Ghosts of business past: Empty shop units for rent for £100,000
- 4 Warning over 'Amazon' cold call recordings scam in Norfolk
- 5 'Oh no, not another one' - lake drowning triggers soul-searching over safety
- 6 Roads flooded on east coast after heavy rain
- 7 Pub has to close indefinitely as town cleans up after floods
- 8 Two Norfolk villages named among most beautiful to visit in England
- 9 'An insult - Matt Hancock accused over secret visit to crumbling hospital
- 10 City recruitment chief linked with Boro exit
That paved the way for a second half in which the home side were nothing short of dominant, troubled only occasionally at the back, in complete control in the midfield and eventually coming out on top in attack.
While a few of the regulars played a massive part in last night's victory, with Sebastien Bassong faultless at the back, Johnny Howson bringing calm authority when introduced in midfield, Matt Jarvis twisting and turning and causing all sorts of trouble with his crosses and sub Wes Hoolahan pulling the usual strings, this was a night when the understudies shone.
Granted this was an under-strength, misfiring and oddly out-of-shape West Brom (many of them looking Baggier than they really should have been), but it should give us heart to see that those waiting in the wings will not look out of place should they be called upon for Premier League battle.
In particular, Gary O' Neil quietly controlled the game, linking defence and attack, slowing the game when that was needed, or speeding it up as otherwise.
Elliott Bennett impressed with his usual tidy play, as well as his desire to get into a decent position in the box and the aforementioned other Bennett made several vital contributions, including an excellent header when Rickie Lambert had set himself to score.
Up front Dieumerci Mbokani took a while to get going but showed some good touches, a few brave headers as well as a quality pass to set up the first goal and of course Kyle Lafferty did nothing to halt his emergence as the Carrow Road faithful's latest cult hero.
He's done more than enough to secure himself a spot on the bench for Saturday's game against West Ham.
Those who believe City have bigger fish to fry this season may think I'm going over the top about the win. But I've always been a fan desperate to see us progress in a cup – and May's memorable day out at Wembley has only whetted that appetite some more.