Crofts will get better and better – Lambert
AUDIO: Paul Lambert hailed his battling Canaries after their comeback performance – but struggled for words to describe referee Trevor Kettle's performance which has cost him the services of a key player.
Andrew Crofts misses the trip to Millwall tomorrow after being sent off for two yellow cards – the second coming after he had scored City's dramatic equaliser in time added on after Martin Paterson's first-half double.
Lambert's delight at his side's response after going 2-0 down was clearly tempered by the decision. Kettle had booked Crofts – who went into the match on four yellows – for a foul, on Jay Rodriguez four minutes from time, then sent him off for a lunge on Tyrone Mears.
'He couldn't wait, could he, to get his cards out of his pocket?' said Lambert. 'He was like a magician. I am pretty sure he had it (the red card) out before he went down. His first one he has won the ball, it's there for everybody to see.
'The ref, honestly – I swear to god he must have been in the magic circle. Don't worry, he'll go and watch the X-Factor tonight and he'll be fine.'
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Crofts was an integral player throughout, and while there was more than a suspicion of handball about his goal, there was also more than a feeling of 'what goes around comes around' for Lambert, who a week earlier had seen Elliott Ward harshly punished for handball in the defeat at Cardiff, with the subsequent penalty taking the game out of City's reach.
'I don't give a damn, honestly,' he said. 'I couldn't give two hoots whether it hit his hand or not because I got one against me last week and I didn't see many people saying it was a wrong decision, so I'm certainly going to take this one.
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'Andrew Crofts' performances in the Championship have been massive. He's getting better and better and he is going to be a top midfield player.
'He is starting to be an all-rounder – he can do the dirty side, he can also get forward and I think he is one of the crowd favourites here.'
There was just the slightest hint of offside for Burnley's second goal, but it was the first which concerned Lambert, who insisted Simeon Jackson had been fouled in the build-up.
'The first goal I thought was a free-kick on Simeon when it gets played up,' he said. 'Why the referee never called it I don't know. He was average I thought anyway – as soon as I saw who was refereeing I thought it was going to be a hard afternoon.'
Lambert had some work to do at the break.
'At 0-0 I thought the game was pretty even, then Burnley get the goal, then they get the second one and their tails are up,' he said. 'It is hard to do that against any team, let alone a team that's just come down (from the Premier League), but the second half I thought we were excellent.
'There's no doubt whatsoever we deserved that, no doubt. We hit the post in the second-half as well.'
The man who hit the post was half-time sub Anthony McNamee, whose introduction helped swing the game in City's favour.
'He has done it on numerous occasions,' said Lambert. 'He has got the crowd going. We changed the system a little bit, from the first-half to the second, and the lads responded great. I thought we looked great in the second half.
'A terrific advert for the game I think. I thought the game was great. When you get games like that, when they go to the death and you hear the way the fans react it was a brilliant football match.
'Burnley are a really good side, they kept a lot of the lads from coming down and the second-half I thought we were brilliant.'
McNamee swung it in City's favour, then Chris Martin turned the screw with the first City goal, eight minutes after coming on for Jackson.
Martin has been on the bench for the last seven games, but has perhaps given Lambert something of a dilemma ahead of the trip to Millwall.
'Absolutely – he has never let his head down, which is credit to himself – and he could have got a second one at the end.,' Lambert said.
'My opinion has never ever changed of Chrissy Martin. People have to remember he is only 21 years of age, he has had a lot in his short footballing career, he has had things to deal with off the pitch, but as a footballer as a finisher there are not many better I have seen.
'He had to wait, but that's the nature of the game and when you get your chance you do what he does.'
Had Martin's curling shot right at the death gone in, rather than a few inches wide, it would have raised the roof at Carrow Road, which was already under threat as City rallied.
'It's brilliant,' said Lambert. 'When you galvanise the crowd and the crowd galvanise you that's what can happen, and when you shoot into that Barclay End it can certainly be a major, major help to you. I've seen a million games like that.
'They are absolutely huge to this football club and always will be. The 25,000 that come nearly every single week are paramount to this club. Brilliant they were.'