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City's status hangs in the balance

PUBLISHED: 10:13 28 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:47 03 July 2010

BRYAN Gunn last night refused to give up the fight as the prospect of relegation loomed larger than ever for Norwich City.

Defeat by Reading in front of a packed Carrow Road means City are walking a tightrope and go into the final game of the season, at Charlton on Sunday, knowing that not even a win will guarantee them safety.

BRYAN Gunn last night refused to give up the fight as the prospect of relegation loomed larger than ever for Norwich City.

Defeat by Reading in front of a packed Carrow Road means City are walking a tightrope and go into the final game of the season, at Charlton on Sunday, knowing that not even a win will guarantee them safety.

If Barnsley get just a point from their trip to Plymouth then City are down and will play in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1960.But Gunn says miracles can happen and, having inadvertently ensured Plymouth's Championship status last night, the City boss is hoping the west country club return the favour at the weekend.

“As the captain, Gary Doherty, said in the dressing room, funny things happen in football,” said Gunn. “We have got to really believe that if we get our job right at Charlton, that a miracle will happen.

“Obviously we are hoping that Plymouth will help us out and put a performance on in front of their own supporters and that Lady Luck will shine on us.

“But we have got ourselves into a position now where we have to get our own job done first and then hope that something else happens at Plymouth.

“It's a big ask, but as the captain said, funny things happen and we have to believe that and that's what we have to focus on for the next four or five days in the build-up to the game.”

Gunn now has to pick up his players and lift a few heads that clearly looked like they had dropped in the latter stages last night, as two goals in the final 22 minutes by Shane Long were enough to keep Reading on course for automatic promotion.

“We have to face up to each other, we have got to face up to the rest of the staff at the training ground and as long as my captain gets it across to the rest of the team that there is still a chance that's what we have got to believe, that's what we have to focus on,” said Gunn.

“We have to lift the players, get them fresh, fit and focused on what will be a difficult day, but one if we give in now we have no chance of getting anything from.”

City will argue they edged the first half, but their failure to trouble keeper Marcus Hahnemann came back to bite them and the visitors came back strongly after the break to take control, both goals coming from crosses from their left which ended with headers at the back post.

The second half was disappointing,” said Gunn. “First half we were on the front foot, we got the ball forward quickly. We didn't cause them too many problems as such, but the spirit was there. We certainly got the fans on our side. Cody McDonald was excellent and I said to him after the game he has got a future in the game. His spirit and his commitment were first class.

“But we didn't create too many openings, which was disappointing. But second half we alerted them to the fact that they are dangerous and if they get in wide areas they will cross the ball, and we've got a defender who held his hands up and is disappointed with his contribution to the goals.”

Tradition dictates that the final game is followed by a goodbye to the players and while the few thousand who remained inside the ground were generous, around 150 fans outside the main stand made their feelings known - with the board of directors on the receiving end of their complaints.

Gunn cut a sad figure as he strode around the pitch way ahead of his players and applauded the fans, but there was nothing but a frown on his face which showed just how serious City's situation is.

“It was very difficult, but out of respect to the supporters and out of respect to the football club that's what we had to do - myself as manager, the rest of the staff and the players,” Gunn added.

“No matter what the result tonight we were going to be doing it - obviously after the result it made it more difficult, but at the same time it is a famous football club and the supporters will support it through thick and thin and certainly there were thousands who stayed behind, which I'm grateful for.”

For the fans it was the final home game of the season - how long before they see another Championship game on their doorstep?

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