Johnson header moves Norwich above Stoke
London: Norwich City picked up their second Premier League home win in a row on Saturday with a battling 1-0 win over Stoke City at Carrow Road.
In an even match the only goal came in the first half as Bradley Johnson headed in a free-kick from the right, but Stoke created plenty of chances of their own, particularly after the break.
Jonathan Walters and Kenwyne Jones both could have at least levelled the scores for the visitors, but their finishing was not up to standard on the day.
Neither side made drastic changes from their last league match, with Chris Hughton bringing in Steven Whittaker for Russell Martin at right-back, and Robert Snodgrass for Elliott Bennett on the wing.
Stoke made even fewer changes, with just the one difference from the team which drew with Sunderland last time out. Andy Wilkinson came back into the team for the injured Mark Wilson.
The opening 30 minutes was very much a battle taking place in midfield, with the two teams enduring a never-ending power-struggle which neither side was particularly dominated. The hosts, however, really should have taken the lead around the 25-minute mark.
Wes Hoolahan, who until then had been given more space than the peculiar person on a bus, jinked down the left, playing a one-two with Anthony Pilkington before finding the winger again in the area, but his close-range effort was stopped well by Asmir Begovic.
The hosts had definitely been the better side and eventually took the lead just before half-time. Robert Snodgrass did well to win a free-kick on the right before delivering it himself and Johnson rose to produce an excellent header that looped into the top corner of the net.
Seconds later Snodgrass almost got himself on the score sheet after good work by Pilkington on the left, but he could not connect with a low cross and the Canaries went into the break with a deserved lead.
After the break Stoke were showing a little more urgency and nearly equalised when Peter Crouch flicked a high ball on to Jonathan Walters, but, under pressure from Sebastien Bassong, the former Ipswich Town man`s shot was parried away by John Ruddy.
Stoke continued to look more interested and were pressing, but Norwich almost doubled their lead when on the counte-attack. A brilliant move ended with Pilkington hammering Grant Holt`s back-post cross well over.
The visitors went close again with 15 minutes left to play, as the increasingly involved Crouch headed a cross on for Jones, but after bringing the ball down on his chest, the forward lashed a volley just wide of the far post with Ruddy helplessly beaten.
Stoke piled on the pressure in the dying stages, but with Norwich holding firm the hosts managed to secure the three points and the win.