March 16 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Chris Hughton recognised the value of denying Sunderland a priceless three Premier League points after a second consecutive away clean sheet on the road in a goalless affair at the Stadium of Light.
City carved out some decent opportunities but the rock-bottom Black Cats’ desperation for a win ensured a tense second half capped by Wes Brown’s red card for an ugly lunge on the returning Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Norwich remained nine points clear of the strugglers as they edge themselves further away from the bottom three following a recent upturn in fortunes which has now brought eights points from the last five Premier League games.
“I think overall I am satisfied,” said Hughton. “They have had a good week and that can really buoy a team irrespective of the difficulties they have had in the league. I think in this day and age any draw away, particularly with a clean sheet, is a good draw. I was a bit nervous at the end when they went down to 10 men and from our set play they ended up breaking away, but we wouldn’t have deserved that. I felt we were very disciplined during the entire game. On the balance of play it was probably a fair result, even though we had some good chances. Certainly when Ricky went through towards the end if that was someone up to speed I think he puts that one away - but it was good to get him on the pitch after being out for so long.
“We’ve picked up a bit of momentum. What has pleased me more than anything is we have picked up some big defeats to Champions League quality teams but we have responded well and that shows character.”
Hughton backed referee Martin Atkinson on two big stoppage time calls with the home crowd baying for a penalty against Sebastien Bassong followed by Brown’s dismissal.
“On the handball I never felt it was at the time and on the challenge I thought it was certainly reckless,” he said. “It was a shame because it was a whole-hearted, end-to-end game and it wasn’t that type of match.”
Hughton confirmed Jonny Howson (back) and Russell Martin (ankle) had both missed out through injury, with Howson the greater concern for Fulham’s Boxing Day visit.
“He felt his back during the week in training and we actually thought he was going to be okay,” he said. “We hope it is not too serious because it is another one in that midfield area. Russ has felt his ankle of late, its a very minimal thing. He wasn’t going to start and we made a decision to rest him with all the games we have over Christmas. He will certainly be available for Boxing Day and the 28th (against Manchester United) so it was really just a case of putting him on the bench or resting him and we chose the latter option.”