Cutting edge demanded by Norwich City boss Alex Neil

Norwich manager Alex Neil expects another battle against Mick McCarthy's Ipswich at Carrow Road. Pic

Norwich manager Alex Neil expects another battle against Mick McCarthy's Ipswich at Carrow Road. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil was delighted with Norwich City's competitive streak at Ipswich but finding a cutting edge will decide the Canaries' Championship play-off fate against their rivals.

Jonny Howson's cool first-half slot put City on course for an unprecedented fifth consecutive win in this East Anglian derby fixture, but Paul Anderson profited from hesitancy at the back to drag Ipswich level.

Neil had predicted a physical barrage from the Blues but the visitors still carved out enough chances to edge in front ahead of this weekend's Carrow Road return.

'It wasn't too dissimilar to what I was expecting. I just felt second half when the game slowed down I would like to have seen our quality be better in the final third,' he said. 'That was the only change I want to see, because it was always going to be intense and it will be all on again this week.

'I think in the first half you could see that sort of pace was not going to last the whole 90 minutes because everybody was scrapping and every ball seemed to have two players competing for it. It was 100 miles an hour stuff fighting for second balls.


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'I would be very surprised if it isn't the same again in the second leg, and we have got to try to compete as well as we did but show more of a cutting edge in the final third. You could see how much both teams wanted it. There wasn't too much between the sides and the good thing for us is we have come away to a difficult venue and made sure we didn't lose the game.'

Neil conceded City's sporadic attacking intent contributed to a fair result.

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'I think the one that fell to Graham Dorrans early on was a great opportunity,' he said. 'The one when Nathan Redmond weaves his way between two or three players and the keeper saves was a good chance. Bradley Johnson had a header at the back post. There were much more chances in that first half and hopefully we can take that domination of the ball from the second half into the next tie, but look to create more chances.'

Neil was irked by the manner of Norwich's concession after Anderson punished Russell Martin's weak clearing header and then John Ruddy spilled Freddie Sears' strike before kicking the rebound into Anderson's path.

Ruddy had earlier pulled off a smart double stop to deny Sears and Luke Varney after Murphy had profited from another miscued clearance.

'Very disappointed with that. It was sloppy from us not to deal with a straight ball up the park,' said Neil. 'We had spoken about it all week and it was just about making sure we knew it was coming and being in the right place for dealing with the first header and then mopping up the bits, and on both occasions we didn't do that. We had done for the rest of the game. Ultimately that cost us and we need to deal with it better in the second leg.'

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