Stand-in Irvine is aim­ing big

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Blair Fer­gu­son

NOR­WICH in­terim boss Alan Irvine is con­tin­u­ing to look at se­cur­ing a play-off place af­ter vic­tory against Barnsley, de­spite not know­ing if he will con­tinue in the hot­seat.

Ja­cob Mur­phy’s goal sec­onds be­fore the end of the first half gave Nor­wich the lead, and a for­tu­nate de­flec­tion off An­gus MacDon­ald sealed the three­p­oints against a Barnsley side who spurned plenty of chances.

This win was Nor­wich’s first un­der in­terim boss Irvine and now has them five points away from Sh­effield Wed­nes­day in sixth, with the Scot not about to rule out a play-off place for the Ca­naries come the end of the sea­son.

“It was quite sim­ple the in­struc­tion that I got the Fri­day be­fore last, that was can you take th­ese two games and look af­ter the train­ing, and we’ll have the con­ver­sa­tion af­ter­wards, so that’s where we are at the mo­ment and I ex­pect I’ll hear some­thing in the next day or so,” Irvine said.

“We’re in a bet­ter posi­ton than when the day started and if we can do that sev­eral times be­tween now and the end of the sea­son then who knows how close we get.

“I said last week about the num­ber of points we had to play for and I said be­fore this game and when you look at each game in iso­la­tion I feel we can win if we per­form well.

“I don’t think any­body would have ex­pected the three teams di­rectly above us hav­ing two de­feats and one draw, so it gave us a chance to close the gap on a cou­ple and leapfrog Pre­ston.”

There was lit­tle in the way of chances in the first half, with Nor­wich’s Alex Pritchard hit­ting just wide and Tom Bradshaw head­ing over af­ter a well worked Barnsley set-piece.

But with half-time loom­ing Rus­sell Martin’s long ball al­lowed Cameron Jerome to find Mur­phy in the box.

The young winger did well to make space be­fore slid­ing the ball across the turf into the bot­tom left cor­ner.

Barnsley started the sec­ond half with plenty of at­tack­ing in­tent but no clin­i­cal edge.

Adam Ham­mill saw his back­heel well-saved by Michael McGovern, and Mar­ley Watkins headed wide be­fore fail­ing to cap­i­talise on a mis­take from Martin.

De­spite be­ing sec­ond best for most of the half it was Nor­wich who scored again. Adam Davies did well to push Steven Nai­smith’s shot away and got up well to get his body be­hind Mur­phy’s ef­fort only for the ball to bounce off MacDon­ald and into the net.

This loss was Barnsley’s third con­sec­u­tive away de­feat, but boss Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom recog­nises his side had enough chances to win the game.

“We weren’t clin­i­cal enough, which is some­thing we’ve spo­ken about over the last few weeks,” said Heck­ing­bot­tom, whose side re­main 11th.

“We gave two sloppy goals away and it’s al­ways difficult go­ing be­hind in this league, but when you’re miss­ing chances it makes it even more difficult.

“So that’s the take away mes­sage from the game, hit the tar­get and score goals.

“We needed to be more ag­gres­sive and we were happy with the first half in a lot of ways but we didn’t cause Nor­wich enough prob­lems.

“We looked a threat on the break, how­ever we didn’t dom­i­nate with pe­ri­ods of pres­sure like we did in the sec­ond half un­for­tu­nately.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

MUR­PHY’S LAW: Ja­cob Mur­phy nets the open­ing goal of the game and, in­set, celebrates his strike

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