Just kick it into the stand next time, says Lambert

All the training in the world could not eliminate the kind of error that handed Aston Villa their crucial second goal, City boss Paul Lambert insisted after his side's defeat at Villa Park.

Lambert's 100th league game in charge of the Canaries turned on the goal scored by Gabriel Agbonlahor three minutes into the second half at Villa Park, when the score was 1-1.

Defender Leon Barnett left an attempted backpass far too short and goalkeeper John Ruddy was beaten to the ball by the quick-thinking Agbonlahor.

'You've got to put it into Row Z. You've got to put it into the stands. There is no grey area then, just kick it in the stand,' said Lambert, who exonerated Ruddy over the incident.

'The mistake was the passback initially, just kick it where you can't score from,' he said.

'I'm sure Leon will learn if it does happen again. His general game is really good, it's just that mistake.

'You can't legislate for that because it's just a slack backpass. No amount of training in the world can change that. What do you do? Just go back to training and pass the ball back? Anybody can do that, you can do that. It's just that we got caught short, we should have kicked it into the stand.'

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Lambert was heartened by his players' character, even when Villa scored a third en route to a 3-2 win.

He said: 'I think the good thing about us is we don't stop, we keep going. That's there in abundance but we can't give goals like that away, especially when you've got a foothold in the game at 1-1 and you lose a silly goal just after half-time that puts you on the back foot – and then you're down to 3-1. But to be fair to the lads they kept on going.

'Anybody who plays against us I think will know they've been through a game, that's for sure.

'I trust my group of players to go and perform and I can count on one hand, in nearly two and a half years that I've been here, the number of times they haven't performed.'

Anthony Pilkington's fourth goal of the season, a superb free-kick, gave City the lead and rewarded their positive start.

'We don't know any other way. We come and try to win games and I thought the first goal was a world-class goal. It gives you that foothold in the game. I think we were always in the game, but Aston Villa are a really good side.

'Probably they've been a little bit stuttery of late but they're still a right good side, especially here with the crowd they've got.'

City protested that Stephen Warnock had handled in the build-up to Villa's equaliser as he blocked Elliott Bennett's ball forward.

'It looked like that from where I was standing. Whether it's ball to hand or hand to ball, the referee will interpret it how he sees fit. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't,' said Lambert.

City suffered one injury setback when midfielder Bradley Johnson departed in the 35th minute, after initially trying to play on following a clash of heads with Villa's Charles N'Zogbia.

'It was concussion. It was a blow for us because he's been a massive player for us,' said Lambert.

Lambert was asked if he was happy with City's tally of 13 points from their first 11 games.

'I think you always want more. You're always greedy, you want to keep on trying to strive to do better,' he said.

'It's disappointing to come here and lose but that shows how far you've come when you come to Aston Villa and you're really, really disappointed to lose.'