Norwich City’s three degrees were key to Stoke Premier League success
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The power of three underpinned Norwich City's timely Premier League 1-0 win on the road at Stoke.
Chris Hughton deployed Alex Tettey behind Leroy Fer and match-winner Jonny Howson in a trio that dominated proceedings prior to the interval. Stoke upped the ante briefly after the break but John Ruddy's goal remained well-protected to secure a confidence-boosting victory at a ground that had proved a graveyard for the Canaries in recent times.
'I thought all three were excellent,' said Hughton. 'We needed it with Alex in there the way they set up and he gave us that little bit of extra pace and power. Jonny is a talent. He's a player from midfield who likes to break, so it's the same with him as it is with Leroy – it's about getting those right balances. Leroy is a player who has got better in the period of time he has been with us. He came a little bit later in the summer and of course missed the first game through suspension, so it has been a little bit of catch up each day and in each training session. He is now feeling more and more at home with the English game. It takes time to settle down with a lot of new players, particularly if they have come from another country and another culture.'
Hughton may have been slightly less impressed with Fer's post-match admission he had grappled Kenwyne Jones inside the visitors' penalty box in a key second-half incident dismissed by referee Anthony Taylor.
'Did he? He is an honest lad then,' smiled the City chief. 'No, I have seen the incident and there is contact but I thought the lad made a meal of it and possibly if that isn't the case then I stand corrected.
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'If we have got away with one then I think we are due one and all Norwich City supporters will tell you that.
'This was a big win for us. Every win away from home is big, particularly for us when we have found it more difficult. I don't think anybody who saw this game would disagree that we thoroughly deserved it. I was delighted with how we played and not just the result.
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'We wanted to play the game at a fairly high tempo in that first half and we certainly didn't want to let Stoke get any rhythm in their game.
'We know they have been playing well of late. I saw their performance at Arsenal and although they lost the game I felt they played very well. We wanted energy on the ball ourselves and perhaps in having a little bit more possession that gave us some confidence.'
City's first Premier League clean sheet away from Carrow Road since a goalless draw at QPR back in February was also a source of pride for Hughton.
'I thought the defence and in particular the two centre halves stood up strong as well in the second half when Stoke went a little bit more direct,' he said. 'The two centre halves had to compete for a lot of those high balls and we needed that shield.
'The game changed after the break and the requirements were a bit different of the players at that stage, but I thought we coped with it really well. It would have been hard to sustain the level of our first half performance because if you look at Stoke's record here there are no easy games they way they play. I knew it would be tough to keep possession like we had done in the first half.'