City off bottom after Ched’s dream start

CHRIS LAKEY Ched Evans set the ball rolling on his fledgling career by helping Norwich City finally get off the bottom of the Championship last night.

CHRIS LAKEY

Ched Evans set the ball rolling on his fledgling career by helping Norwich City finally get off the bottom of the Championship last night.

The on-loan Manchester City teenager scored his first senior goal less than three minutes into his senior debut - and, despite some jittery moments towards the end, the Canaries hung on to claim their third win under manager Glenn Roeder.

QPR's defeat at home to Crystal Palace ensured City climbed a place, casting off the millstone that has hung around their necks since the end of October. Preston's 3-0 victory over Hull didn't help City's cause, but at least they haven't been cast adrift, with just two points between them and Blackpool, who are in the final safe spot.

Roeder said: “It's very good to get off the bottom, but what will be even better is that we don't slip back there again, that we now start to make progress up the table, slowly but surely.

“I said when I came here this wasn't going to be solved in a month. I have been in this position many times, we are going to go through the whole winter on a roller-coaster ride, but I have always been confident that we will secure our position in the Championship come the end of the season and I haven't seen anything different in the time I have been here to change my mind.

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“We have won three out of four, we should have had a point at Stoke, which we didn't. We have just taken nine points and all that's done is take us off the bottom. It's very important, but it shows you what sort of run we have to go on to make sure come the end of the season we pull away from the bottom three.”

A win at home to Sheffield United on Saturday would do City's hopes a power of good, but they will want to avoid the late jitters of last night.

Darren Huckerby's 87th-minute penalty, after he had been fouled by Paul Connolly, appeared to have put the game beyond Plymouth's reach. But the visitors hit back almost immediately to ensure a nerve-racking finale.

Roeder had told Evans it would be a night to remember - and he was right.

The teenager sprang the offside trap, headed towards the area and kept his head to slide the ball under keeper Roman Larrieu.

“He couldn't have wished for a better start,” Roeder said. “When I was talking to the players before the game I said, 'Ched, it's your debut tonight, and whatever happens you will remember this for the rest of your life'.

“He has had a really, really good debut that he can be proud of. They are difficult goals - the easy goals are the snap shots, where you aren't really expected to score, no pressure whatsoever.

“He was under an awful lot of pressure: first minute of the game to carry the ball forward. If you count the seconds from the time he is put clear, it's probably four seconds or so that he has in his mind to decide what he has to do and you have seen very experienced players miss those all the time. ”

“That goal would suggest he is going to be a hell of a goal scorer in his career.”

Roeder sprung a surprise by dropping skipper Jason Shackell last night, handing the captain's armband to midfielder Mark Fotheringham. And while Shackell will return on Saturday, Roeder says he has yet to decide whether he will lead the side out.

“I will think about that over the next few days,” said Roeder.

Argyle manager Paul Sturrock believes his side were hard done by referee Paul Taylor,

“I think we have had a look at the penalty three or four times and it didn't seem a penalty to me,” he said. “Yes, he does make contact, but the ball was cleared in a straight line past the player and we feel a wee bit unjustly done by as far as that is concerned.

“But we didn't do enough second half. I think first half the goalkeeper made a couple of saves and we had some half chances, but second half we didn't really penetrate or get into the right areas.

“The big disappointment for me is as a team we didn't defend properly tonight, we allowed too many spaces between us. We take a very high line, which at the end of the day with the pace they had in certain areas can cause you a lot of concern.

“At half-time if we had come out and played to those standards I think we would have got back into the game very quickly, but we just didn't seem to come out of the traps second half.”