Norwich City boss Alex Neil hails fighting spirit of his troops in Ipswich derby win
PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 March 2015 | UPDATED: 18:04 01 March 2015
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Norwich City boss Alex Neil admitted the Canaries had to match Ipswich’s fight to prevail in a 2-0 Championship derby win which moved them within three points of the top.
Bradley Johnson and Lewis Grabban struck in either half at Carrow Road to maintain City’s regional dominance over their Suffolk neighbours with a fourth consecutive win in the fixture and the eighth of Neil’s tenure.
“The first port of call is to make sure you win the game,” said Neil. “I didn’t think it was the best game, if I am being honest, Ipswich came and put the ball forward and were very direct and they are very good at what they do, We had to make sure we were up for the battle.
“We had to win those first and second balls in the middle of the park and at times it ends up basically a match-up with little football played. As the game lengthened and spaces and holes became more available to create our gifted players started to get more and more into the match and that is why we deservedly won the game.
“Bradley is just doing exceptionally well. He knows what his job is and he is a real threat going forward with his left foot and he is also really aggressive hitting the box at the far post with his head. He is just working really hard, as is the rest of the squad. I think in the last six games we have deserved to win, it is not a fluke, we have played well.
“Just now we have really picked up a bit of momentum. Today and particularly the difference I saw in the fans from the first couple of games when I came in they were quiet. I think now they appreciate they are watching a team who are giving everything they have got.”
Town chief Mick McCarthy insisted Norwich’s ruthless finishing was the key difference.
“I don’t think there’s a lot in the game,” he said. “Nobody has dominated the game but they scored the two goals. That was it. We lost the ball in midfield for their first one, it took a bit of a deflection off one of our lads, but the shot was unstoppable. It was a terrific strike.
“The second one has taken a deflection too. I think Bart was going to save that. We didn’t get any of that.
“We had a few scrambles in their box, but the deflections didn’t go our way and it wasn’t our day in front of goal. Freddie (Sears) had that chance (at 1-0), but that was a great save. I thought Freddie took it in his side and hit it well. You’ve got to give the keeper (John Ruddy) credit for that.
“Bragging rights don’t give you any more points. It gives them the kudos of course, and I fully understand what it means to supporters having played and managed in several local derbies, but it’s still all to play for. We’ll knuckle down and look to finish, at least, in the play-offs. What are we three (points) off the top two still? I don’t think this will affect our lads. They’ve responded well to set-backs all season. I keep saying, the lads have been brilliant all season.”