Alex Neil warns the doubters not to write off Norwich City

John Ruddy spills Jamie Hanson's cross in Norwich City's 1-1 Championship draw against Derby County.

John Ruddy spills Jamie Hanson's cross in Norwich City's 1-1 Championship draw against Derby County. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Defiant Alex Neil warned not to write off his Norwich City players after John Ruddy's spill gifted Derby County a point in their Championship promotion duel at Carrow Road.

Neil insisted Ruddy was not to blame for City's 1-1 draw, when he fumbled Jamie Hanson's corner over his line after being grappled by Jeff Hendrick, in a result which left fifth-placed City three points behind leaders Bournemouth ahead of tomorrow's league trip to Huddersfield.

'I told the lads, 'Don't be too despondent, you have played one of the top teams in the league and we were dominant in the match.' We created a lot more chances than them,' said Neil. 'We restricted them to very little, and if anyone had said that to you as a manager before the game you would've taken it.

'It's a bit unfair on John and people will look at it and think he has made a mistake. I am sure John might have thought he could do better and he is disappointed, we all are. John has been fantastic since I came here. He has made some big saves in crucial games and he is one of the main reasons we are where we are. It will be highlighted more because he is a goalkeeper, but he has been fantastic.

'Regardless of that incident we had more than enough chances to win it. We had two golden opportunities in the last five minutes and didn't stick them in.'

Norwich's late frustrations, fanned by Derby keeper Lee Grant's resistance and some wayward finishing, was in stark contrast to the clinical strike for Jerome's opener, his 18th of a productive campaign.

'It was a fantastic goal and we had a lot of fine team play in the game and sometimes that final pass let us down but we moved the ball relatively well,' said Neil. 'At times we could have moved the ball quicker but in terms of performance I felt it was a decent one.

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'Even when they scored we had chances. Seb (Bassong) has had a great header and the keeper has made an excellent save. Bradley (Johnson) has had a good chance, Gary Hooper had one where the keeper has made a save down to his left-hand side, Cameron's header at the end and in the first half as well, so there were numerous chances in the game. It was just one of those days when it wouldn't go in the net.'