Norwich 1-0 Stoke: Match Report
Norwich 1-0 Stoke: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Johnson sinks Stoke
Bradley Johnson headed in the only goal as Norwich continued their revival with a hard-earned 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.
Norwich recalled captain Grant Holt and England goalkeeper John Ruddy into the starting XI as manager Chris Hughton again utilised his full squad.
Stoke, who had drawn six of their nine league games, brought in full-back Andy Wilkinson after Marc Wilson fractured a bone in his calf against Sunderland.
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.
Norwich were soon on the offensive, with their pressure leading to several corners which were unceremoniously hacked cleared by the Stoke defence.
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.
Adam was shown a yellow card by referee Andre Marriner after falling over under pressure from Javier Garrido but replays showed there was contact from the Norwich defender.
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.
Norwich then almost went 2-0 up when Snodgrass just failed to connect with Pilkington's cross through the six-yard box.
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.
Turner hobbled off and was replaced by England Under-21 international Ryan Bennett, the former Peterborough centre-half.
Stoke continued to press, winning more of the ball in midfield and looking to hit striker Peter Crouch, who once had a productive loan spell at Carrow Road, at every opportunity.
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.
After 63 minutes, Snodgrass carried the ball away down the left for Alexander Tettey to release Holt. The striker floated an intelligent cross-field ball to the back post where Pilkington arrived at pace but could not keep his shot down.
Stoke switched things around again as Kenwyne Jones came on for Walters, while Norwich made another forced defensive change as Leon Barnett replaced Garrido, who looked to have picked up an injury.
Jones met a free-kick into the Norwich penalty area with a downward header, which Ruddy stooped to gather.
Stoke striker Jones was then unfortunate to see his shot drag wide of the far post after collecting another dangerous ball on his chest and creating space in the six-yard box.
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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