Stoke City 0 Norwich City 1 match report: Jonny Howson strike seals Canaries victory at the Britannia Stadium

Plus manager Hughton describes midfielder Fer's performance as 'excellent'

The Britannia Stadium

There was little evidence of Stoke City’s much-vaunted new passing game here yesterday but for Norwich City it seems the benefits of their sizeable £23.5m net transfer spend in the summer are finally starting to be felt.

Five days after overturning a two-goal deficit to win at Watford in the Capital One Cup thanks to Gary Hooper’s first two strikes for the club, Chris Hughton’s men earned their first away points of the Premier League campaign with a deserved victory against a disappointing Stoke side.

Jonny Howson’s solitary 34th-minute strike was only their fourth goal in six league games but it was the least they merited from a performance that showcased the quality of their  dynamic new Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer. If the jury remains out his compatriot and fellow new boy Ricky van Wolfswinkel – preferred to Hooper in the lone-striking role – Fer shone alongside Alex Tettey and Howson in a midfield three that established an early grip on the game that they simply never relinquished.

The 23-year-old saw a transfer to Everton break down in January but their loss appears the Canaries’ gain on this evidence. “He came a little bit later than most because he was involved with Dutch Under-21s,” said Hughton of his £4.5m signing from FC Twente. “With each training session, each game he is feeling more at home. He was excellent.”

He was also lucky. Fer – a man who once bought a £22,000 horse for his girlfriend before realising she could not keep it as she lived in an apartment – got away with another potentially costly mistake just after half-time when he tugged at Kenwyne Jones in the Norwich box but was fortunate that referee Anthony Taylor ignored the striker’s ensuing tumble. “Yeah, I pulled his shirt,” he confessed to a Sky interviewer afterwards. “Just a little bit.”

Fer’s honesty was matched by Mark Hughes, the Stoke manager. “We’re not going to hide behind that missed  decision,” said Hughes. “We didn’t have enough players at the right level today.” For all the talk in the build up about Stoke’s rebirth as a passing team – no more “sky football” was striker Jones’s pre-match dig at Tony Pulis’s regime – they simply never got started and managed only two tame shots on John Ruddy’s goal.

For Norwich it was only their third league away win since Hughton  replaced Paul Lambert last year and, by Hughton’s admission, eases some of the pressure that had begun to build after a slow start. “Before the game we were sitting fourth from bottom and that’s pressure in itself,” Hughton said.

The visiting supporters could have no complaints here, though. Their team’s start was as bright as their  yellow shirts in the autumn sunshine as they forced Stoke on to the back foot immediately, almost getting their reward after nine minutes when Ryan Bennett got in front of Ryan Shawcross to turn Robert Snodgrass’s deep corner on to the crossbar. “We wanted to play the game at a fairly high tempo in that first half and not allow Stoke to get into any rhythm because they’ve been playing well,” said Hughton.

Far too many Stoke passes were going astray and although Marko Arnautovic had a glimpse of goal – firing narrowly over from a Charlie Adam lay-off – the hosts paid for their sluggishness moments later as Howson struck. Stoke lost the ball from a throw-in inside their own half, Marc Wilson heading it inadvertently inside to Anthony Pilkington who laid it on to Howson. With no defender closing down, the Norwich man was free to let fly from 25 yards with a shot that dipped beneath the right hand of the diving Asmir Begovic. It was a strike the goalkeeper will not enjoy reviewing.

Hughes sent on Jermaine Pennant and Stephen Ireland for Adam and Jonathan Walters at the start of the second half but Stoke’s improvement was minimal. After Jones’s penalty shout, the big striker then created a half-chance for himself but Ruddy saved comfortably. Norwich remained composed in their passing, and  retained a threat with the help of their two wide players, Pilkington and Snodgrass, the latter drawing a fingertip save from Begovic with a fine curling effort. As it was, though, one goal was more than enough.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style