Alex Neil - Bradley Johnson is my Norwich City sharp shooter
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Bradley Johnson's dream season scaled new heights with a thumping winner to sink Brighton 1-0 in the Championship to propel Norwich City closer to the Premier League.
Johnson's 11th goal of a productive campaign kept Alex Neil's men firmly in the title race, but the Scot admitted he has come to expect nothing less from his all-action midfielder. The 27-year-old guided second-half substitute Nathan Redmond's cut-back past Seagulls keeper David Stockdale to seal a priceless away league win in front of more than 3,000 travelling supporters.
'I think he has scored five or six goals since I came here arriving at that back post and his left foot when it arrives at him, it has a fair chance of going in the net with the quality he is capable of producing,' said Neil. 'Nathan had an instant impact on the game as well and that is what we wanted.
'I wanted him to go and make a difference and win the game for us so I was delighted with that. We have six games now and we just have to go and win all six. Like I said to the players, 'That is step one done, and you can move onto the next one now'.'
Neil admitted the manner of Norwich's latest away win within the context of an epic scrap at the summit of the Championship merited the collective celebrations on the final whistle.
'Of course it feels like a big one,' he said. 'Especially coming away to a Brighton side you knew were going to be hard to beat. That just showed the togetherness of the group. The fact we have had so many fans travel down here on a Bank Holiday, it was only right for myself, the players and staff to go over and show our appreciation because up until we scored they were still fantastic in the way they were singing and backing us. That is all you can ask of them. We don't lack belief at this moment in time because we are in really good form and we believed if we played to our full potential we would win the match. I think we flitted in and out of reaching that sort of level.'
Neil's pre-match calls for a clean sheet proved prophetic with John Ruddy and his backline in miserly mood.
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'I thought we were solid. We didn't really give Brighton too many chances,' he said. 'We wanted to work on the clean sheets and that is going to be crucial for us between now and the end of the season. You can't always out-score the opposition, you have to be stubborn, well-organised and hard to beat and apart from that 15 minutes before half-time we had that. There were some big performances defensively and the guys marshalled the defence and big John handled things well when they flashed one or two balls across his penalty box.