March 8 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, December 23, 2013
Chris Hughton knows the real value of a hard-fought point in a goalless draw at Sunderland will come by beating Fulham at Carrow Road on Boxing Day.
Hughton has now witnessed two vastly-improved away displays and clean sheets in claiming four points from struggling West Brom and the Black Cats, but upward mobility is firmly roote in home wins.
“You come away from a place like Sunderland and you haven’t conceded and that is generally a nice feeling for the players. They had a few chances, we were under pressure at the end but we were resilient,” said Hughton. “The reality is we then go into a home game where the expectations are perhaps different. Irrespective of Sunderland’s league position, most fans I think would view a draw as a decent result but I know expectations change and our support expect us to win at home, and I have to manage that. We’re on a decent run at the moment, especially after the injuries which we’ve had to contend with in recent weeks that have tested the squad and I think we’ve responded really well to that. From where we were we’ve done well, but that’s the league and that’s how it is. It’s about coping with the ups and downs and we’ve picked up a bit of momentum.”
Hughton admitted Norwich could have secured a second consecutive away win with Gary Hooper, Leroy Fer and the returning Ricky van Wolfswinkel all testing Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone.
“Overall I am satisfied. They have had a good week and that can really buoy a team despite the difficulties they have had in the league,” said Hughton. “I think in this day and age any draw away, particularly with a clean sheet, is a good draw. I was a bit nervous at the end when they went down to 10 men and from our set play they ended up breaking away but we wouldn’t have deserved that. I felt we were very disciplined during the entire game.
“On the balance of play it was probably a fair result, even though we had some good chances. Certainly when Ricky went through towards the end if that was someone up to speed I think he puts it away but it was good to get him on the pitch after so long out.
“It was a fairly open game at times. I thought we broke really well and we got into some good areas and we’re a bit disappointed that we didn’t come away with a league win.”
Hughton backed referee Martin Atkinson’s decision to dismiss Wes Brown for a crude challenge on van Wolfswinkel in stoppage time moments after rejecting penalty appeals against Sebastien Bassong.
“On the handball incident I never felt it was and on the challenge I thought it was certainly reckless and it was a shame because it was a whole-hearted, end-to-end game,” he said. “It wasn’t that type of match. It was a competitive game and there were a few challenges flying about and the referee had to make decisions At that stage of the game I felt it was a bit of frustration, because that’s not what Wes is about.”
City’s away point on Wearside was also another building block after embarrassing losses at Manchester City and Liverpool.
“What has pleased me more than anything is we have had a couple of big defeats, albeit to Champions League quality teams, but we have responded well on each occasion and that shows character,” said Hughton. “You have to learn. It is not the results that hurt so much at Liverpool and Manchester City, it was the manner and the number of goals we shipped.”