Alex Neil refuses to cry fowl over Norwich City’s late sucker punch at West Ham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Perhaps it was fitting after one of the more action-packed games of Alex Neil's Norwich City reign his post-match duties at the Boleyn took on a surreal element in a tale of wildlife and late West Ham woe.
Neil's dissection of City's near miss in the East End, after Cheik Kouyate's 93rd minute equaliser had cancelled out earlier goals from Robbie Brady and Nathan Redmond, was interrupted by a request for his thoughts on Jonny Howson's act of kindness to a stray pigeon on the Upton Park pitch.
The Scot managed to see the humour in a bizarre episode through the disappointment of losing two Premier League points.
'Jonny is from Yorkshire. He is a good boy. He looks after the welfare of animals so he was the man for that situation,' said Neil. 'The game was played in a good spirit and I don't think someone kicking a pigeon on the pitch is going to help that.
'I thought it was a great match. Both teams tried to attack, both tried to win the game. In the first 30 minutes we were well on top, we scored a really good goal and had two good opportunities to get another. Then I thought for the remainder of the half, West Ham came more and more into it and they were the dominant team.
'Of course, when you concede with 30 seconds or so left you are disappointed to drop two points. That is the overriding feeling in the squad but for me we have come to a good side and more than matched them. We've just played a team who have beaten three top sides in the league and for large spells I thought we showed we were better than them. I was chuffed with the boys.'
City did have to ride out an uncomfortable passage following Diafra Sako's leveller in the first half.
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'I thought they were on top and we had to suck it up. We didn't control the ball as well as we had done and when we did we weren't stretching the game as well as we had,' said Neil. 'We needed to open the game back up for ourselves. We were playing it short instead, which allowed West Ham to pressurise us, and that is how they got a lot of joy in that 15 minute period before half-time.
'The message at the break was to keep doing what you had in the first 30 minutes, try to turn them around again a bit more and we needed to make it stick up front. I thought (Dieumerci) Mbokani did that when he came on. He took the ball in really well and linked the play.'