Brilliant Johnson header sinks Potters
3pm 4th November 2012
Attendance: 26, 072
AN AUDACIOUS header from Bradley Johnson from a controversial free kick was enough to extend Norwich`s unbeaten run to four in all competitions and extends Stoke`s run of 15 games without an away win.
In a game that lacked any real quality and clear cut chances, Bradley Johnson managed to rise highest in a crowded penalty area to direct the ball into the back of the net with an audacious back-header from an inviting free kick from Scotland international Robert Snodgrass.
Snodgrass won the free kick in controversial fashion, as his fellow Scotland team mate Charlie Adam seemed to have been fouled on the half way line but referee Andre Mariner, who gave a number of baffling decisions in the game, allowed play to continue. The ball found Snodgrass on the wing and managed to outpace stand-in left back Andy Wilkinson and cut across the Stone born defender, and went down for a free kick on the edge of the area. Wilkinson protested the decision and replays show that little if any contact was made.
The resulting free kick was whipped in by Snodgrass and Johnson fired home the winning goal past Bosnian Asmir Begovic.
Stoke started the game the better, and we were fast out of the blocks. Charlie Adam nearly opened the scoring when he struck an effort from 25 yards but didn`t get enough bend on the ball and it slid wide of the scrambling John Ruddy`s goal.
Adam had another chance when he struck a long range effort at goal but England international Ruddy was more than a match for the shot, as he was all game.
The Potters, who are still trying to adapt their play, seemed to lose the plot after that as the Canaries controlled the rest of the second half. Stoke tried to play the ball on the floor a lot but when nothing was coming of it, they lacked patience and hit the ball long into the crowded out Peter Crouch with very little effect.
Norwich nearly grabbed the opening goal just before half time of a dire first half when the impressive and trickery Wes Hoolahan creating space on the left hand side and teeing up Anthony Pilkington, and with it seemingly easier to score than miss, the Irishman struck straight at Begovic who managed to turn the ball away.
Not long after Johnson rose brilliantly and opened the scoring, allowing the Canaries to go into half time with the lead.
Stoke came out for the second half with more purpose and contained the East Anglian outfit in their own half but couldn`t make their dominance count.
Jon Walters, who was starting his 61st consecutive league game, had arguably the best chance for Tony Pulis` side as after he could only direct an inviting ball from Charlie Adam straight at the impressive Ruddy, who has now kept 4 clean sheets in his last 6 matches.
Substitute Kenwyne Jones almost got Stoke back on to level terms when he brought the ball down well and turned majestically but could only drag his shot wide and then had another chance when he rose the highest but could only direct his header at the Norwich goalkeeper.
Norwich managed to soak up even more late Stoke pressure and picked up their second league win of the season.