Just what the Doc ordered

NORWICH City live to fight another day after finally wresting their fate away from their rivals and putting it firmly back in their own hands yesterday.

NORWICH City live to fight another day after finally wresting their fate away from their rivals and putting it firmly back in their own hands yesterday.

City's biggest crowd of the season saw them bounce back from consecutive defeats to move two places out of the relegation zone - and pile the pressure on the other teams in the Championship relegation mix.

It was a result which was met with cheers of relief after a game high on drama, tension and raw energy - and left manager Bryan Gunn asking for more of the same in the next three matches, starting at old rivals Ipswich next Sunday.

“It's a massive boost for the club,” said Gunn. “I think certain sections of the media had seen us drop into the bottom three and maybe were writing us off, but I think the result today has given us hope.

“It is in our own hands now - three massive performances like we reached today, the same level of commitment and performance and nobody can take that status away from us.

“But we will have to at least match and if not better the level we attained today to make sure we are in the Championship next season.”

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It was a day when the big guns fired on all cylinders. Skipper Gary Doherty scored the vital second goal late on but it owed much to Jason Shackell's aerial prowess, while former Tractor Boy Alan Lee's stock rises higher with each outing in the yellow shirt of Norwich City.

“There were inspirational performances from everybody, certainly the 11 that started,” said Gunn. “And then we had three others that came on and filled in and did jobs as well because that was important that we finished off the good work that was achieved in the first 80 minutes.

“Alan Lee ran himself into the ground and gave a performance that a few weeks ago a few Norwich City fans would have questioned whether we would have got that, but I think in the games he has played for us so far he's certainly shown that he wants to be part of this mission we are trying to complete at the moment and the fact that he got the man of the match was just reward.

“But saying the inspirational performances all over the pitch today certainly sent the fans home happy.

“The biggest crowd of the season witnessed a passionate performance.”

Not everything went in City's favour yesterday - Forest are in the drop zone despite a valuable point at Sheffield United, while Southampton beat Crystal Palace. But City jumped two places because Barnsley were beaten 3-1 at home by Swansea, leaving them slap bang in the middle of it all - and Gunn remains convinced there are others too.

“It's not only them (Barnsley),” he said. “There are other teams - Forest are in the mix, Plymouth still in the mix, Blackpool still in the mix.

“It's a great result for Southampton, but they have play other teams around us as well. I would expect them to battle the way through to the end of the season because they can still get out of it as well.

“But the main thing for us if we win our remaining three games with our goal difference we will be - better not say it.”

That reluctance to talk about absolute safety is borne out of a season of sheer frustration, and even yesterday Gunn wasn't entirely happy until Doherty popped with that second, insurance goal, for City.

“Watford didn't give in, the way they came, the way they tackled, the way they competed,” he said. “They're relatively safe with their status in the Championship, but obviously Brendan Rodgers has demanded a performance from them and they gave them that and it wasn't until seven minutes to go and the second goal went in that I actually felt comfortable because we had other chances and we kept hitting crossbars and posts and had offside decisions so it wasn't until the second one went in that I released a little bit of my own passion.”

Once again the City crowd played its part, helped by the fact that City lit the blue touch paper within seconds of the kick-off.

“That was important and we said that to the players before,” he said. “Remember back to the way we started against Sheffield Wednesday - it was slow, it didn't inspire the supporters. Today they came out of the blocks very sharply and inspired the supporters and the biggest crowd of the season witnessed a spirited and committed performance and a result that keeps us on track.

“I'm sure the fans that will travel to Portman Road will give us that backing and the players will hopefully respond to that and reach the levels they got to today.”