Norwich City defender Russell Martin: As good as it gets
Norwich City defender Russell Martin labelled City's derby dismantling of East Anglian rivals Ipswich as the 'best 90 minutes' of Paul Lambert's tenure at the club.
Martin slotted in a late fourth goal in the 5-1 Portman Road drubbing to help the Canaries complete an emphatic Championship double which stepped up their bid for automatic promotion.
The reliable right-back is confident Lambert's squad will be ready to rumble against Derby at Carrow Road on Bank Holiday Monday – but insists City deserve to savour a stellar display.
'I've enjoyed some memorable games in my career but I can't think of one better at the moment. What a game,' he said.
'The fans came and made it a fantastic atmosphere. Since I've been here and since the gaffer has been here that was probably the best 90 minutes of football we have given.
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'We need to get back down to earth now and get ready for Monday, but hopefully everyone can enjoy it for a few days. Hopefully the fans go away and enjoy it like we have as players. We can now watch the results come in over the weekend with plenty of confidence because we're coming into top form at the right time.'
Martin admitted the away dressing room at Portman Road was in a state of shock after the final whistle.
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'We're not coming to a place that is struggling,' he said. 'Maybe it was a bit different at the start of the season when we played them and they weren't in the best form. You look at the league form table and they would be in the top five so to come to a place where they have been scoring for fun and dominate them for large periods is great – and the fact that it's a derby game just makes it all the more sweeter. The lads were a little bit shocked but also elated.
'It was a brilliant feeling to score. I can't really explain it. I was looking for my brother in the crowd, but I had no chance. All I could see was a sea of yellow going mad. Me and Crofty (Andrew Crofts) were speaking about it beforehand about what a feeling it would be to score in a derby game and luckily enough I have done it –but I was overdue one.'
Martin insists creating derby history is a delicious extra to the main course.
'People can get carried away with the significance of beating your local rivals,' he said. 'Of course we knew what it meant to the club and the fans, but it is another step to achieving what we want to try and achieve. We've also sent out a signal that we have the strength of character and the focus to hopefully do that. If we play like that for the next three games we'll be there or thereabouts.
'I'm sure the other clubs up there with us will be surprised at this result, like we are, and hopefully it might start a few fearing us. We have gone about our business quietly.
'Cardiff have been up there all season, Reading are on a great run but we have just been chipping away and picking up results.
'We'll take that with the focus not being on us – we don't mind that at all – but what this result does is make a few people realise we are real contenders and we will be here right until the end.'
None more so than the ever-present Martin who continues to be a cornerstone in the Canaries' attempt for consecutive promotions.
'From start to finish it has been so enjoyable this season. Unbelievable really,' he said.
'We have a great group of lads and hopefully you see that spirit when we play. The effort is there; that togetherness at training, even when we are staying in a hotel. We don't just eat our dinner and go straight back up to the rooms.
'They might seem like trivial things but we'll hang about for an hour chatting and it shows we're a group of friends as well as players. I think that translates to the pitch.
The gaffer has instilled a tremendous togetherness and I know the fans appreciate that because they follow us everywhere in their thousands home and away.'