Lambert hails city fans

PUBLISHED: 11:24 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 03 July 2010

NORWICH City's biggest away following of the season witnessed a full-blooded encounter at St Mary's Stadium - and were hailed as the "extra man" as their side came away with a hard-earned draw.

NORWICH City's biggest away following of the season witnessed a full-blooded encounter at St Mary's Stadium - and were hailed as the "extra man" as their side came away with a hard-earned draw.

A total of 2,205 City fans made the 400-mile round trip to Southampton and were rewarded with a point from a 2-2 draw thanks to second-half goals by Wes Hoolahan and Stephen Hughes.

Afterwards, manager Paul Lambert walked across to salute the travelling army and said it was "vital" to acknowledge their effort in making the trip.

He said: "They were brilliant, honestly, they are absolutely terrific the following we've got and it just showed again - it's a long, long way to travel and they came down in their thousands.

"You look at the people who come and watch us and they have been absolutely terrific for us. They are a major part of this football club, and our fan base is extraordinary.

"We fill our stadium and I am sure if you added another tier on our stadium at this minute in time you'd fill it."

Goalscorer Hughes added: "The fans were brilliant today. They got behind us right from the start and when we get them on our side then it is, especially at home, like an extra man.

"It was a great effort from them today, especially with the weather."

City stay fifth in the table after the draw, while Southampton are third from bottom thanks to their 10-point deduction. But Lambert believes League One will not produce a better contest.

He said: "That was a brilliant game, as good as I think you will see this season.

"I was disappointed with the goal we lost but all credit to them for coming back, for what they did. It was excellent.

"I thought we started the second half really, really well. Southampton had to change their system to suit us and I am absolutely delighted the way the lads played their game. It takes big players to come back at times when you're down a goal and you go down another one and all credit to them.

"It was really open. It was two teams going for each other, a really, really open game and it could be an absolutely massive point."

Lambert did not rule out the Saints making their own push for the top six, despite the amount of ground they must make up.

He said: "I don't see why not because they are a really good side. It's a terrific stadium, a terrific place to play football and they are there by default because of the 10-point deduction, so I think if people read anything into that they could be asking for trouble."

Southampton boss Alan Pardew was delighted with the game but disappointed with the scoreline after leading twice.

He said: "We should have made the game ugly and shut up shop, but we like the entertainment factor and gave them a chance to get back in it.

"We've got a bit of learning to do and they are further down the line than us in terms of the players Paul Lambert has inherited and the work they've done, but we are getting better.

"We are disappointed we didn't win, but it was an absolutely brilliant game. It was a game that would have graced a higher division. Norwich were as good as us and there were chances galore."

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