Solid Canaries delight Hughton
Chris Hughton claims Norwich are developing into the "secure unit" they must be to survive in the Premier League. After failing to register a victory in their first seven league games, the Canaries have chalked up two in the last three since the international break following yesterday's 1-0 win over Stoke at Carrow Road. Norwich have also tightened up at the back, returning two successive clean sheets at home in their revival - a stark contrast to earlier in the campaign when they leaked goals on a regular basis. Hughton feels the signs are positive for the battles ahead. "We are not making the individual errors now that we had been," the Norwich manager said. "In the games where we conceded a lot of goals, we let them in at bad times, and because of that you have to open up a bit to try to get back into the game, as a consequence of that we conceded more. "Now we look more compact, we are not scoring the amount of goals we would like or making life easy for ourselves, but you can't have everything. "At the moment, though, we are looking a fairly secure unit." Norwich had looked to build on their midweek Capital One Cup tie, when a much-changed side edged past Tottenham and into the quarter-finals. After both Norwich and Stoke had been guilty of wasting spells of possession, Norwich created the first decent opening after 23 minutes when Wes Hoolahan picked out Anthony Pilkington in the Stoke penalty box, but the winger could only drive his shot straight at goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. The Canaries broke the deadlock just before half-time, when Bradley Johnson flicked in a well-delivered free-kick from Robert Snodgrass. The set-piece came after a foul was awarded against full-back Andy Wilkinson - much to the disbelief of the Stoke bench. While the home side spent far too much of the second half on the back foot, protecting their lead, Hughton felt the final outcome was reward for plenty of industry. "Earlier in the season when we had a good spell, we did not get the points, which was disappointing," he said. "In this division, I know just how valuable three points are. "We have got ourselves back to a level of performance we have had before and are probably looking more solid than we are likely to score goals, but at least it is three points." Johnson feels Norwich can go on to emulate their achievements of last season under Paul Lambert, who left to manage Aston Villa in the summer. "A new manager and new players have come in, so it was always going to take some time for us to gel," midfielder Johnson said. "We did not get off to a great start, but now are picking up points and hopefully can carry on. "We wanted to shore the back and not concede so much, and we are doing that now. "We defended well and the result is the only thing which matters." Stoke's long search for an away league victory continues, the last success coming at Blackburn in January. Potters boss Tony Pulis felt let down by the match officials, lamenting what Stoke saw as a poor call in the build-up to Norwich's goal as well as the decision of referee Andre Marriner to show midfielder Charlie Adam a yellow card in the first half for diving. Adam looked to have been pushed over by Canaries defender Javier Garrido. However, the Stoke manager also accepted his side have to make the most of the openings they were able to create - notably in the second half when Jon Walters' point-blank effort was parried by John Ruddy before substitute Kenwyne Jones headed straight at the goalkeeper and then dragged a close-range shot wide. "We did not deserve to lose," Pulis said, "but we have been like that for five or six matches. "We have to start winning games." His side have drawn six times in the league this season. "I have got a better squad than last year and we are playing some good football at times," Pulis said. "We need to get results to show we are better, and we have played another match where we have created three outstanding chances and we just have to bury them."
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