From deja vu to frustration at Stoke’s 10 men for Norwich City’s Bradley Johnson
18:16 09 March 2014
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There’s not much in the game of football Norwich City are making look easy at the moment – be it winning, scoring goals, defending. And now playing against 10 men can be added to the list.
Having worked so hard to earn the lead in a game that seemed destined to be decided by its first goal, a penalty concession was only beaten in the frustration stakes by the fact Jon Walters’ sending off a few minutes later didn’t bring anything more fruitful.
Stoke’s effort in getting bodies behind the ball was commendable all afternoon – losing a man with the scores level only increased the Potters’ desire to strengthen the pattern after Walters’ misdemeanour.
“(Finding a second goal) was hard for us because I think them going down to 10 men as well, they got everyone behind the ball,” said Norwich goalscorer Bradley Johnson. “We were getting balls in the box but Stoke are a big, physical team and they’re going to head everything out.
“It’s harder because they get everyone behind the ball and they just sit there and want you to break them down. But Stoke are a well organised, defensive team.
“I’ve been in teams where when you go down to 10 men, and you just work that bit harder. They have done that and fair play to them. They held out for the draw.
“We just couldn’t find that solution today but we didn’t lose, we got a point and we’ve got to take the positives out of this game.”
It looked for a brief time as though history might repeat, as Robert Snodgrass was hauled down for a free-kick on the right that he subsequently delivered for Johnson to head home – Johnson’s first goal at Carrow Road since the last time Stoke visited; November 2012.
City won that fixture 1-0 – this time, Sebastien Bassong’s error conceded the penalty that cost them two precious Premier League points.
“Snoddy said it to me it was just like last year, said Johnson. “It’s not my job to score goals but it’s always the team’s job to chip in. I did that – unfortunately we didn’t hold on.
“I didn’t see the penalty – I was up challenging for a ball with my back to play – but I spoke to Seb and he said he caught him, so it’s a penalty.
“We’re disappointed with the way we went into the lead and then conceded a penalty, and threw away the three points. But we are a point closer to where we want to be and that’s staying in this league.
“Those mistakes at the back, it’s something we’ve got to nip in the bud. Seb’s disappointed with the penalty but other than that I though him and Joseph Yobo were top class.
“Stoke used Peter Crouch well today but Joseph and Seb handled him very well too and it was just a lack of concentration, giving away a penalty.
“But he knows what he’s done and he’s disappointed with himself. We’ve just got to bounce back now and hopefully get three points on Saturday at Southampton.”