Norwich City run out of answers in Premier League stalemate against Stoke City
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Chris Hughton admitted lacklustre Norwich City struggled to find the right answers to break down a resolute Stoke in a frustrating 1-1 Premier League stalemate.
The Canaries recovered from a sluggish first half but gifted Jonathan Walters a penalty leveller after Bradley Johnson had powered the hosts ahead just before the hour mark.
Hughton's side were presented with a chance for redemption when Walters was red-carded with 17 minutes left, but Asmir Begovic was a virtual spectator as the Potters ran the clock down with few alarms.
'Sometimes you are pleased when you see a team go down to 10 but there is arguably no-one better than Stoke at dealing with getting men behind the ball,' said Hughton. 'There are not too many with their height and power at the back. The only way you felt it might come was a good strike from outside the box or getting in behind the full-backs. Generally anything lofted into the box is not going to bring success and we didn't really make any inroads. It might have been a little bit more open without it.
'At times we had Seb (Bassong) up there with a front two and we got a lot of balls into the box but, no, we didn't do well enough in that period but the frustrating thing was in a game that wasn't a classic we did enough to win. I'm not so sure it benefited us.'
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Hughton insisted Walters deserved to go for a studs up challenge on Alex Tettey that could have had far-reaching repercussions beyond the midfielder's injury exit.
'I think the lad is going to be okay. He was sore after the game from where he was caught but we don't feel there will be any problems,' said Hughton. 'I don't think there can be too many complaints. He is certainly high. They both went for the ball but Walters was higher than Alex and he certainly caught him. It is one that most referees would have given.'
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The Norwich chief was less convinced over referee Andre Marriner's decision to penalise Bassong after he felled John Guidetti inside the penalty area.
'The penalty was soft. It was a ball I didn't think Seb needed to go for,' said Hughton. 'On other occasions a different referee might not have given it but we allowed ourselves to get in that position. It was a long throw we needed to deal with better. We have spoken as a group and I was annoyed we allowed ourselves to get in that position, as much as the penalty.
'The frustration comes from not seeing out the game. We were 1-0 up against quite a direct Stoke side who offer that physicality up front and the disappointment was the equaliser came in the period when we were more comfortable. I thought they gave us some problems in the first half but we had come through that. It definitely felt like two points dropped. At 1-0 I felt we dealt with everything they had thrown at us in the second period.'
Hughton accepted Norwich may rue a chance to ease further away from the bottom three.
'We could have done ourselves a big favour and make life more comfortable for ourselves with a win,' he said. 'But it doesn't change how I feel about our situation in the table.'