Russell Martin delighted to add goal to clean sheet
There's nothing a defender likes as much as a clean sheet – except possibly scoring the only goal of the game as well.
Russell Martin is no different: his third of the season gave City all three points, helped one of his brothers to a healthy payout from the bookies – and ensured the car park attendant at Carrow Road could say: 'I told you so'.
The shut-out ended a run of 10 games when City's back four have been beaten, but of the eight occasions when the door has been kept firmly shut this season, two have been against the Championship leaders.
'It's been really frustrating for us as a back four because it's been chop and change with a few injuries and suspensions,' said Martin.
'But we said to ourselves it was about time we kept one, to be honest, because we haven't been cut open by anyone.
'We've conceded sloppy goals on our part and today to keep one was a real bonus, especially with Zak (Whitbread) coming in. He did tremendously well. He hasn't played for a long, long time and he showed today what he can do.
'We all knew that anyway – we've seen that in training. It's just nice for him to show it to everyone else and for Adam (Drury) as well to come back after a long while out and do exactly what he usually does – he's Mr Reliable.
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'It was a great result. Especially at home – with the crowd behind us we fancy ourselves against most teams.
'The way the gaffer wants to play, we never go out negatively or looking for a draw. We go out to win every game.
'I think that was shown today and in the end we maybe should have got a few more and made it a bit easier to watch for the fans and killed the game off – been a bit more ruthless but it's still a massive result.
'To keep two clean sheets against the league leaders after getting a 0-0 draw down there – they were two massive results.'
Martin clinched the points on nine minutes after Chris Martin's shot had been blocked – the first time he has scored in front of the home crowd.
'It's about time,' he said. 'Graham, the car park attendant, always says it. He said 'I think you're going to get your first one today' so it's nice.
'I think my brother had a fiver on it as well so he'll be happy and he'll be paying for dinner tonight. I think it was about 45-1 so he'll be very happy.
'Chrissy did unbelievably well, but the boy just got back and blocked it, and it fell to me nicely. I caught it well and I think (Paddy) Kenny couldn't really see it. It went under Clint Hill's leg. I caught it quite cleanly and it was just nice to see it hit the back of the net.'
'There was no deflection, it went through his leg. I've just watched it again. I caught it well on the half-volley and luckily it went in.'
Martin is the only ever-present in the City squad this season, having played all 24 league and Cup games, so is well qualified when he assessed Saturday's performance against the others. Was it the best so far?
'Yes, definitely, at certain times, for sure,' he said. 'We got in amongst it and set the tempo because we know that's what they like to do. Their away record is really good, they like to get in people's faces and make it hard.
'If we start like that and get the crowd behind us, we'll be a tough team to play against.
'They always have a chance, so the gaffer said we needed to kill things off, especially as we got such a foothold in the game and were really dominating. But I think that will come.
'We're new to this league and we're still learning and it's tough to break teams down but the fact we created so many chances is a really good thing and eventually we'll end up taking a few.'
Martin is hoping for a peaceful journey to the north-east for this afternoon's game at Middlesbrough.
'It was a tight game here,' he said. 'They've had a change of manager so I'm sure they will be trying to play a different way and he'll be imposing his ideas, but it's always going to be a tough place to go.
'They were a Premier League club for heaven knows how long, but we usually do all right back to back. We've got a good, fit squad so if we have a good rest and a good journey up.
'It's a long way to go, but if we go up there and play the way we did today, if we can get anywhere near that tempo, we'll be all right.'
Martin has been one of the players subject to speculation over his future in the build-up to the opening of the transfer window, with Blackburn reportedly interested.
Manager Paul Lambert scotched those rumours last week, while the player himself says no-one in the City dressing room is in the mood to leave.
'I saw it in the week,' said Martin. 'The first I heard of it was the lads giving me banter about it when I came in. But speculation is going to happen – I'm sure it will.
'There has already been speculation about Holty and the way we're doing, because we came up last year, there is going to be speculation about a few of the lads, I'm sure. But it's like the club have said.
'It's a sign that we're doing well as a team and individually, but there is not one person who is unhappy in that dressing room – even the lads that don't play.'