Stoke City vs Norwich City. Sky Bet Championship.
Report and free match highlights from the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Norwich City at the bet365 Stadium as Alex Neil's Potters and David Wagner's Canaries battled to a goalless draw.
Saturday 18 March 2023 19:39, UK
Dominant Stoke drew a frustrating blank at home to play-off chasing Norwich in a goalless draw at the bet365 Stadium.
The Potters wasted a string of chances against the Canaries, who had goalkeeper Angus Gunn to thank for a series of smart saves on their travels.
A point saw Alex Neil's side stretch their unbeaten league run to four matches, but the Scot cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as the home side failed to kill off their misfiring opponents.
United States international forward Josh Sargent had a glorious chance to fire the visitors ahead in the sixth minute, but he dragged his shot wide of the target having been left with a one-on-one with Stoke keeper Jack Bonham.
The miss could have been costly but Norwich keeper Gunn saved well from striker Jacob Brown's goalbound header soon after.
Dutch loan defender Ki-Jana Hoever had a powerful shot charged down as the Potters pressed for the opener, before Ben Wilmot was thwarted by Gunn from an acute angle.
Gunn then produced a fine save to deny midfielder Will Smallbone from close-range and, less than a minute later, the keeper did brilliantly to block Brown's point-blank header as the Canaries found themselves under the cosh.
Brown had another great chance to score just before the half-hour mark but, yet again, Gunn denied him with a superb save.
Bonham saved a shot from Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Sara six minutes before the break, while Sargent had a shot blocked as the Canaries rallied after soaking up plenty of pressure.
Striker Teemu Pukki went within a whisker of firing the visitors ahead just three minutes after the restart, but the Finland international rifled wide.
At the other end Gunn pulled off yet another save, again from Brown, who hit the target from close range.
Brown and Tyrese Campbell should have done better as Norwich badly fluffed a set-piece, but the forwards failed to make a strong counter-attack count.
Axel Tuanzebe headed wide from a decent cross from Smallbone just after the hour mark, but still the home side could not find the back of the net.
Midfielder Ben Pearson thought he had scored with a 71st-minute thunderbolt from distance, but his effort flew into the side netting.
Brown had a decent to chance to win it at the death for the hosts, but he headed across the face of goal and the Canaries clung on for a battling point.
Stoke's Alex Neill:
"I thought we were the dominant side through the whole game and I thought we were the better team.
"We spoke about Norwich and the DNA of Norwich and how they try to play and I think that's the first time I've seen a Norwich side come here and play for a draw or go anywhere and play for a draw really in the Championship.
"They were hard to break down and hard to get through but having said that, if we'd have scored three goals, four goals, I don't think anyone would have had any complaints. We had numerous chances to take the lead, we didn't take it.
"The only way Norwich looked like they were going to score was in transition, particularly when we forced the ball central. We needed to work around the shape.
"But I thought we were excellent. It was never going to be an easy game.
"It was a different challenge for us. The last couple of games have been man for man and the game has opened up, but this time you could see Norwich not getting the ball out from a goal-kick. I've not seen them do that before.
"I think they understand how good we are at pressing the ball and gave us a lot of respect, and they get a point from the game.
"I've got no qualms with people playing that way, by the way. I don't want to make out they shouldn't have done it.
"How you want to play the game is up to you, it just surprised me a little bit because I've seen Norwich play for years and that's not generally their style."
Norwich's David Wagner:
"I'm very pleased with the performance, especially the fighting spirit and togetherness we showed," said Wagner.
"We really had to stick together after a really tough week - and the players have done this.
"We had three games in six days and have had injury problems, so we really, really had to fight to earn something.
"We had a very good opportunity to score with the very first opportunity of the game, but Stoke had some very good opportunities as well and Gunny [Gunn] was fantastic.
"I'm very happy for him, it was a fantastic performance from him.
"In the second half we had some good counter moments, but unfortunately we were not able to use.
"I'm really pleased with the performance, particularly defensively."