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Norwich City boss Paul Lambert looks for response

PUBLISHED: 14:20 05 March 2012

A dejected Ian Culverhouse and Paul Lambert trudge off at the end of the game. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

A dejected Ian Culverhouse and Paul Lambert trudge off at the end of the game. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

Manager Paul Lambert insists his Norwich City side will bounce back quickly after completing a hat-trick of defeats with a 1-0 reverse at Stoke City.

The Canaries’ below-par showing at the Britannia Stadium was in stark contrast to the stirring display six days earlier in their narrow home defeat by reigning champions Manchester United, which followed their FA Cup exit at the hands of Leicester City at Carrow Road.

City slipped three places in the Premier League table to 11th after the weekend results, but the visit of bottom club Wigan Athletic next Sunday (4pm) offers them the chance to get back to winning ways and all but secure another season in the top flight.

“We are not going to beat ourselves up about it,” said Lambert. “We have done brilliantly to get ourselves into the position we are in and we will regroup and go again next Sunday. “I’m disappointed to lose but we tried. It was a hard game, conditions were hard with the wind but I thought it had 0-0 written all over it.”

It might have finished that way but for Matthew Etherington’s 72nd-minute winner for Stoke, which came from a throw-in Lambert felt had initially been correctly awarded to Norwich by referee Michael Oliver.

“I think it was our throw. He’s indicated that. He’s actually walking away as if he’s given it to us. He raises his hand a little bit as if it’s a Norwich throw, and the linesman’s overruled him for some reason,” said Lambert.

“Our lads obviously thought it was our throw. They were out of position and they lost a bad goal. But I think it was there for everybody to see it was Norwich throw-in.

“The referee did admit it to me going up the tunnel he was giving it to us but the linesman for some reason overruled him.”

It is only the second time City have lost three successive games under Lambert. Early this season, their Carling Cup exit at the hands of MK Dons was followed by Premier League defeats at Chelsea and at home to West Bromwich Albion.

Said Lambert: “I thought in the game there were never really many chances. It never really got going with any fluency.

“It is a hard place to come, you’ve got to combat that aerial threat with throw-ins and corners, which I thought the lads had done really, really well. The throw-in changed the game.

“For my own team, I couldn’t ask for any more, how they combated the threat but it wasn’t until Stoke scored we started to look threatening.”

The late introduction of striker Aaron Wilbraham for debutant Jonny Howson, and midfielder David Fox for Bradley Johnson, was Lambert’s response to the goal but an equaliser seldom looked likely.

“Maybe it was just a bit too late but the effort was great,” he said. ““When you get a goal against you, you think you need to go and so something and the lads seemed to pick it up and get going.

“It was not through lack of trying that we never got a goal or a win up here.”

Midfielder Howson was thrown straight into his senior debut four days after playing for the reserves against Wolves.

“He did really fine for his first game in a few months. I think Jonny will be a big player for us come the remaining weeks of the season,” said Lambert.

The City boss admitted that goalkeeper John Ruddy had taken the blame for the goal when he was beaten at his near post by Etherington.

“I’ve just spoken to him. John doesn’t need me to tell him – he knows,” said Lambert. “But I’ve got to say John Ruddy has produced some unbelievable moments for us and he’ll do it again, so I can’t be too critical of him. He’s been brilliant for me.

“He’ll know himself that maybe he shouldn’t have been beaten at his near post, but he’s been colossal for us.”

è City Under-18s were beaten 3-1 at Aston Villa in Saturday’s FA Premier Academy League match.

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