Alex Neil thrilled by the 'ugly side' of Norwich City's performance during win at Cardiff

PUBLISHED: 18:18 04 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:39 05 February 2017

Mitchell Dijks of Norwich and Josh Murphy of Norwich combine to stop Craig Noone of Cardiff City during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Mitchell Dijks of Norwich and Josh Murphy of Norwich combine to stop Craig Noone of Cardiff City during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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The physical approach and mental determination of Norwich City's players in grinding out their 1-0 win at Cardiff City has drawn high praise from manager Alex Neil.

The Canaries boss was clearly a satisfied man after seeing his side win their first away match in over four months, thanks to Cameron Jerome’s header in the 40th minute.

It brought an end to a run of eight successive away games without a win in the Championship and moved City to within three points of the play-off places.

“Our away form has been poor and I’ve been really critical in terms of doing the ugly side of the game, which is battling, winning your headers, being physically competitive in the matches and I thought we more than did that today,” Neil said after the victory.

“I thought we were big, we were strong, I didn’t think it was a great game in footballing terms but I thought it was two competitive teams going toe-to-toe

“When you come here you are going to have to stand up to that because the fact of the matter is Cardiff are a direct team, they get the ball forward, Neil (Warnock) has got them organised and they’re going to make it tough for you.

“If you don’t fancy it, you’re going to get beat, it really is as simple as that and I thought the character of my players and how well they adapted themselves to that type of game was great.”

Match report: Cardiff City 0 Norwich City 1

Cardiff boss Warnock was pragmatic in defeat, having already admitted that promotion will be beyond the side he succeeded from Paul Trollope in October.

However the experienced 68-year-old was unhappy that his side did not get a penalty in the second half after two strong appeals.

Firstly substitute Rhys Healey was booked for simulation when under pressure from Timm Klose in the Norwich penalty area in the 76th minute.

Then three minutes later Jacob Murphy bailed out Ivo Pinto with a saving tackle on Kadeem Harris, which drew loud protests from the home fans in a frenetic final period.

“I’m really pleased with the lads today, the way they went about their business,” Warnock said. “It’s difficult to come off with nothing, it’s hard but the positives are that we gave a really good account of ourselves against a quite expensive team.

“There was not a lot between us really, perhaps a bit of finishing that’s required but I can’t fault the effort, I thought the effort was fabulous and on another day we could have had a couple of penalties.

“I’m disappointed with the penalties, I think probably seven or eight out of 10 referees would have given the penalties, both of them really.

“The first he said he was 100 per cent he (Healey) dived but there was definitely contact and if he thought that then it’s definitely not a yellow card.

“The second one, not in a million years has it (the ball) been deviated when you watch it and yet we’ve got a superhuman linesman on the far side who spoke to the referee and said he thought he saw deviation.

“We’re talking about a guy 45 yards away, in front of a goalkeeper! I’ve heard some reasons but I’ve never really heard anything like this.”

Follow David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer or on Facebook @DavidFreezer1

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