If anything sums up the remarkable resurgence of Norwich City – apart that is from the enterprising management of Alex Neill – it is the lethal left boot of Bradley Johnson.
In front of Carrow Road’s biggest ever all-seater crowd it put Norwich on the way to a sixth successive victory and another crucial win over a fellow promotion contender. That it came at the expense of their local rivals was an extra dollop of spice to add to on a tasty Canary dish.
The “Old Farm derby” has traditionally been a closely-fought affair but Norwich are making easy weather of it these days. This was their fourth win in a row over their Suffolk neighbours and once Johnson had pulled back his left leg with devastating effect after Lewis Grabban’s cross had diverted into his path, the home side held command.
It was Johnson’s third goal in four games and his eighth in 15 appearances. “He has a real threat and is working really hard,” said Neill of his prolific midfielder who also blasted home the winner at Blackburn in midweek.
Norwich made sure of the three points when Cameron Jerome’s first charge following his entrance as a second-half substitute ended with a shot which hit Tyrone Mings and then rebounded off Grabban to bounce over the line.
Like the first goal it was the product of the excellent Wes Hoolahan’s vision. The little Irishman was rightly named man of the match but he had stout support in the central areas from both Jonny Howson and Alexander Tettey.
The win put Norwich third in the table just three points behind leaders Derby and one behind Middlesbrough in second place. Neill, who has now masterminded eight wins in his 10 games since taking charge, said afterwards that his sights were firmly fixed on automatic promotion.
“I didn’t think we’d be in this position so soon and it’s now in our own hands because we still have Derby and Middlesbrough to play at home,” he said. “There’s expectancy when you’re in this position but our group is better placed to deal with it because they’ve been up in the Premier League and come down again.”
Norwich’s supremacy was only really threatened shortly after Johnson’s opener when Daryl Murphy’s wonderful crossfield pass was gathered by Freddie Sears but John Ruddy came out well to smother his shot. Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy claimed: “I don’t think there was a lot in the game. Norwich didn’t dominate us, but they scored the two goals and won the match.”
Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Olsson; Howson, Tettey; Redmond (Jerome, 61; Hooper, 90), Hoolahan (Dorrans, 83), Johnson; Grabban. Substitutes not used Turner, Andreu, Garrido, Rudd.
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers, Smith, Berra, Mings; Chaplow (Varney, h-t), Bru (Parr, 69), Skuse, Tabb; Murphy (Wood, 79), Sears. Substitutes not used Gerken, Anderson, Clarke, Benyu.
Referee P. Tierney (Lancashire).Reuse content