Chris Hughton insisted Norwich City’s match-winning goal tells you everything about the quality at his disposal.

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Anthony Pilkington cut inside Carlos Cuellar to finish a sublime exhibition of passing that Hughton was adamant would have graced any of the Premier League’s aristocracy.

Pilkington’s strike, allied to Sebastien Bassong’s earlier opener, looked to have put City in firm command until Craig Gardner’s 44th minute long range hit set up a tense second half, which Hughton believed should not mask the beauty of the game’s defining moment.

“I thought the ball retention for Pilky’s goal by us, if that was some other sides, they would be showing it for quite a while,” he said.

“It was a really excellent finish. I thought originally he had made the wrong decision to cut inside because he might be closed down, but he has that type of ability. It’s a challenge for him now. How many goals and how many assists can he get.

“They made us work for it but I think we expected that, given the time of the goal. That helped them but even without the goal just before half-time I thought as a team we were good enough.

“We didn’t make any changes to the team either, so to sustain that for the whole game was going to be tough and allied to that the goal gave them a lift. It made for a slightly different half-time team talk because you feel you have to get into them a little bit more.”

Hughton also felt Sunderland’s wretched recent run may have helped Martin O’Neill’s men to grow into the contest away from the pressure of performing in front of the demanding Wearside public.

“We needed, of course, to try and get the third goal because they had to open up and when a team is not going as well as they would like at present and they are away from home perhaps they can express themselves a little bit more,” he said. “They have got very good players.

“The lads had to put a real tough shift in. It is a testament to the players. We had to make saves, we had to put bodies on the line and in front of the ball and they did that.

“I thought Grant Holt was excellent up front. He is someone who enjoys scoring goals. It is difficult for him, but he led the team really well.

“He is a striker and they live on that. Possibly some of his game has had to be sacrificed for the good of the team, but I thought he was very good.”

Hughton accepted Gardner’s finish from Danny Rose’s persistent play down Norwich’s right-flank had not been in keeping with City’s recent defensive discipline.

“I thought it was a poor goal to concede from our point of view. It was a superb strike but a poor goal,” he said.

“Certainly when you are on the back of a good win you don’t look to apportion blame but what I would say is by our standards we have been very solid and we haven’t let many in of late. Perhaps Sunderland will look at the goals we scored and think they could have been avoided.

“Mark (Bunn) had to make some very important saves – particularly the one at the end of the game when they had a free-kick that I didn’t think was at the time. You know with Gardner how well he can strike the ball and that it could be a real difficult one for the keeper, so he had to show good handling.”

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12 comments

  • Not sure about Turner automatically slotting straight back in, MBA. He might have a fight on his hands as Ryan Bennet has really stepped up and done well. Look at how good Whittaker has been and now Russell Martin is finding it hard to get off the bench. It's really encouraging that we have such good cover for most of the positions. We didn't have that strength and depth last season. Hughton knows what its all about.

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    Flying Canary

    Monday, December 3, 2012

  • FC, I agree R Bennet looks good, but I think his youth is better suited to being a quality back up and a regular in the cup team. I think he is a star of next year, not just yet.

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    MBA Marine

    Monday, December 3, 2012

  • Totally agree Swiss. I'll take 5th or 6th from bottom now, just to stay in the Premier. But with a few more goals we could do so much more than that. Happy days! OTBC

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    Timbo

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

  • They say if it aint broke don't fix it...but there were some tired legs out there and a refresh is what we could need, especially against Swansea after seeing how they played against Arsenal. To have some of the talent we have on the bench does give a degree of comfort and so far, touch wood, when someone has been asked to step-up to the mark from the bench they have. I see two Holy Grails, stay in the premiership and get first away win - the former will be a longer task, the latter hopefully soon. OTBC

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    Jakarta Canary

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

  • I agree Pa Snipps, particularly if Norwich were chasing a game in the last ten minutes with Morro on with Horse.

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    waclor

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

  • ,Just thought I would put my 'fourpenneth' in!....Great result on Sunday, but.we are still playing with our shoes on the wrong feet! Get Snodgrass doing a Huckerby on the LEFT wing. Plenty of choice for the right wing!

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    Pa Snipps

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

  • I agree with Pa too! Specially the right foot\left foot issue. I think Pilks is fairly "two-footed" but Snods clearly is only comfortable standing on his right one. Little Benno seems a little less one-sided, too. I still think Cinnamon has much to offer as a (not too late) sub, either as a second striker or using his pace out wide. I like Hoots` (SORRY, Pa`s!) "Chevron" formation but it needs a bit of pace & quality crosses from the wide men. We still have Surs, Foxy, Howson and Butterfield in reserve, too - but how long will they be happy being bench-warmers? January window will reveal all? Any news on Big Bass`s fitness?

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

  • I think they said on MOTD2 that there were up to 28 passes in the little section leading to the goal

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    gordon52

    Monday, December 3, 2012

  • Just the best result against Sunderland, we have a little breathing space from the bottom three. I like Snoddy but its time to give him a rest for Swansea bring in E Benno, keep the rest the same (unless Turner is fit) Change to 4-4-2 with 20mins left bring on Jacko, Morrow and Howson for Holt, Hoolahoop and Johnson. I think we need a bit of a game changer in the last quarter.

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    MBA Marine

    Monday, December 3, 2012

  • I just like the way this team keeps grinding out the results. If they can find a few more goals they will really be a force to be reckonned with.

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    Swiss Canary

    Monday, December 3, 2012

  • when pilkington was interviewed after the match he said that holt didnt congratulate him after he scored,he said he was lucky to have scored.he chose to carry out a risky manoeuvre instead of a simple pass to holt who had an open goal.sour grapes on holts part? i dont think so it is the view of a pragmatic team player who values the certainty of a goal over and above all else.we have to play to our strengths and i still feel holt properly supplied is key.during the short time elliott bennett was on the field he managed two crosses one holt almost got on the end of.surely bennett deserves a start

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    dick

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

  • I agree with you MBA. Defintely need to change it around at times. Yesterday it was crying out for it. Especially when hoots admits the players were tired cos of playing 3 times in a week. Our ex-manager, cannot remember his name, would certainly have switched it much earlier.

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    zebbee

    Monday, December 3, 2012

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