Warnes: Final day task is not a mission impossible
Norwich head coach Andy Warnes believes the pressure is on relegation rivals Chelmsford ahead of tomorrow's final round of matches. The two sides are locked together on 13 points, with Norwich ahead - and keeping their heads above the relegation zone - on points difference.
Norwich head coach Andy Warnes believes the pressure is on relegation rivals Chelmsford ahead of tomorrow's final round of matches.
The two sides are locked together on 13 points, with Norwich ahead - and keeping their heads above the relegation zone - on points difference. But they face varying challenges tomorrow, with Warnes' men travelling to champions Thurrock, while Chelmsford host an Ipswich side who have lost their last three games and who lie one place above the Essex side in the table.
Norwich are not yet ready to throw in the towel, however, and Warnes said: 'It's a massive challenge, but I think the pressure is on Chelmsford because of our goal difference. If we both go out and lose we are still above them - the pressure is really on them to go out and win. With that said, we have got to play the league champions and Chelmsford are at home to Ipswich, who have capitulated a bit recently.
'Thurrock may decide to go out with a bang or they may decide to test a few different players now they have won the league. Maybe a few of their players will have decided to go on holiday early, so it's a funny week and you can't predict what will happen.'
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Despite their lowly position, Norwich's points difference is the fourth best in the division and Warnes prefers to use that as a barometer for his team's performances: 'I like to think that gives a fairer reflection of how good we are,' he said. 'It is the fourth best in the league, but we just haven't been able to nail games down. It is painful - sometimes it's easier to be thrashed and to know you are not the best side on the pitch, but the margins are very fine in this division.
'We haven't quite had the nous to win games by a point or two.'
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A relegation battle may not on the surface appear to represent a successful season, but delve deeper and you will find Norwich's second and third teams flourishing at the top of their divisions: 'The third team have been promoted, the second team are very close and we've fielded a fourth team regularly,' said Warnes. 'But unfortunately the top end of the club had deteriorated quite badly in recent years. We have started to turn that around and this season we have continued to build a stronger coaching profile with an increased commitment to training.
'We never set out for a quick fix so buying players in was never on the agenda. It's a back to basics approach built around local players.'
Having finished in the relegation places last year, Norwich were saved from the drop by a league reshuffle and Halifax's withdrawal from the National League. The loss of key players has hampered this year's campaign and Norwich have been forced to use 50 players in the first team this season.
Captain Sam Turner is still in plaster following an ankle injury which has sidelined him for much of the season and Warnes said: 'I think we must have used most of our good luck up in pre-season when we stayed up because we've had no luck this season!'
He added: 'It's always better to stay up than have to come back up, although staying up this year has been a bit of a double edged sword. I think some of the guys might have found it easier in the division below and I think anyone coming up from that division will find it a massive step up.
'It is a tough one, but we have proven that with our own resources we can compete at this level. Nobody plays against Norwich and thinks it will be an easy game.'
Norwich travel with Clark Hindle at scrum-half, Rob Micklethwaite at full-back and the forceful Ewen Wilson on the wing.
Warnes has yet to complete his final selection in the forwards but Freddie Cook will certainly play, either in the back row or the second row.