Six and out for City

CHRIS WISE Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington refused to be too downhearted after seeing his side's bid for a sixth straight victory fall apart in spectacular fashion at Carrow Road yesterday.


Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington refused to be too downhearted after seeing his side's bid for a sixth straight victory fall apart in spectacular fashion at Carrow Road yesterday.

You would scarcely have guessed the Canaries were a team on a roll as they turned in a distinctly lacklustre performance to crash to a miserable home defeat against an impressive Preston outfit who fully deserved their 3-0 success.

In the end a fourth game in the space of eight days proved a bridge too far for Worthington's men as they took on a side who had lost one of their festive fixtures to the weather.

But the City boss was determined to stress the positives as he reflected on his side's heaviest home defeat since mighty Arsenal came away with a 4-1 victory during the early stages of the 2004-5 Premiership campaign.

“It was one of those occasions when it just wasn't our day,” he said. “I think the whole situation of playing so many games in a such a short space of time probably caught up with us a bit and our performance was below par. If you can't keep hold of the ball you are always going to be in trouble.

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“But if you had said nine points out for a possible 12 over the Christmas period beforehand we would probably have been quite happy with that. There are a lot of plusses to have come out of the holiday games, that's for sure.”

The impressive visitors never looked back after taking the leading on the stroke of half-time through Adam Nowland, who was later carried off with a broken leg. Further goals followed midway through the second period through Graham Alexander (penalty) and David Nugent and in the end the hosts were a well beaten side.

City had a couple of decent opportunities of their own, with substitute Jim Brennan missing the best of them just after the break, but Worthington had no intention of crying over spilt milk afterwards and accepted his team had been beaten by a very good side.

“We had two good chances,” he said. “Paul McVeigh slipped the ball through to Darren Huckerby and the ball ran away from him and then Jim Brennan got through early in the second half. If we had got one of those it might have got us up and running. There were also a couple of reasonable shouts for a penalty, and that might have helped us a bit too. But that's by the by. The game is behind us now and we have got to move on.

“We have got to get rid of it and get the players recharged and ready for the FA Cup game against West Ham on Saturday.

“Preston have had a game less than us over Christmas so you should bear that in mind. But they are good side, who pass the ball very well, just like we can on our day.

“Any team who can string together a run of 16 games unbeaten can't be bad.”

City suffered two more injury setbacks yesterday, with Carl Robinson aggravating a rib problem and Adam Drury hurting his back. Neither player managed to last the full 90 minutes and with Darren Huckerby suspended at the weekend Worthington could be down to bare bones once again for the eagerly awaited clash against the Hammers.

“Carl has got two cracked ribs, which is very painful, but he wanted to play which is all credit to him. We had to give him an injection beforehand,” he said. “We'll just have to wait and see how he is for Saturday, and the same applies to Adam.

“On top of that Hucks is suspended, Youssef Safri is away with Morocco and Andy Hughes is still out. So if any of you press lads can bring your boots along next week you might just get a game!”

Preston assistant manager David Kelly, who stood in for his boss Billy Davies at the after-match press conference, was naturally delighted with his side's performance.

"I thought we were absolutely top class today,” he said.

"This is a very difficult place to come to. But we stood up to be counted, played some excellent football and fully deserved the three points.

"That's as good an away win as we have had all season - especially when you consider the quality of the opposition.”

As for his side's play-off chances, Kelly added: "We are doing okay so far. Like a lot of sides in this division we are moaning about the size of our squad and we've also had some bad luck with injuries, but we are competing well against clubs with massive resources.

“We will just try and keep this run going and see where we end up.”