Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Norwich battle to Stoke win

Bradley Johnson's first goal of the season gave Norwich victory

Bradley Johnson headed in the only goal as Norwich continued their revival with a hard-earned 1-0 win over Stoke at Carrow Road.

The Canaries are unbeaten in four games across all competitions following the international break, having reached the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup with victory over Tottenham in midweek.

Stoke, though, were unfortunate not to have taken something from the match when they produced a much-improved second-half display after falling behind to Johnson's effort just before the break.

Following a positive start by the hosts, it was the visitors who created the first real opening after eight minutes when midfielder Charlie Adam curled a low shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.

After 23 minutes, Wes Hoolahan cut into the Stoke penalty area and pulled the ball back for Anthony Pilkington, but the winger could only drive his shot straight at goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Neither side was able to make the most of their possession, with some poor choice of passes in the final third.

Wilkinson tripped Robert Snodgrass as he got away down the left channel, conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position just before half-time. It proved a costly foul as the delivery from the Scotland international was first class - with Johnson flicking the ball on into the top corner to head Norwich ahead after 44 minutes.

Stoke had a good chance to level at the start of the second half. Norwich defender Michael Turner fell over as he tried to clear Adam's flick and Jonathan Walters got ahead of Sebastien Bassong to drill a low shot goalwards, which Ruddy did well to parry away at point-blank range.

As the hour mark approached, Potters boss Tony Pulis made a change when Matthew Etherington replaced fellow winger Michael Kightly. Norwich continued to be pressed backwards, but were dangerous on the counter-attack.

With five minutes left, Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross hauled back Holt as the Norwich captain turned to break into the penalty area - but was shown only a yellow card. Despite four minutes of stoppage time, Stoke were unable to force the equaliser as Norwich closed out their second successive home Premier League win.

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