Goalscorer De Laet feels frustration
Ritchie De Laet believes Norwich City have not got what they deserve from their opening Premier League exchanges, after coming within seconds of victory over Stoke City at Carrow Road yesterday.
The on-loan Manchester United defender flicked home Bradley Johnson’s excellent free-kick to earn the Canaries a first half lead they looked set to hold on to – until Leon Barnett’s dismissal left them with 10 men and half an hour to old out. Goalkeeper John Ruddy did his bit, saving the resulting penalty following the City centre-back’s foul on Jonathan Walters, but Kenwyne Jones broke City hearts in the fourth of five added minutes with a close range header.
That made it two draws from City’s opening pair of top flight fixtures, including the same 1-1 scoreline at Wigan last weekend, but De Laet feels City should already have more points to their name.
“We’re very frustrated really,” said the Belgian. “I think we deserved more out of the game. Obviously going down to 10 men didn’t help us, they got the crosses in and they have some big lads up front and in a split second we didn’t concentrate and it’s in the back of the net.
“I wasn’t sure if it was a penalty or not. I was going for the header so didn’t really see the incident, but it didn’t help us. John Ruddy made a brilliant save from the penalty but we could have lost the game because of that. We tried to play football and I think out of these two games we deserved more.”
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Barnett’s foul on ex-Ipswich Town striker Walters, who saw his spot kick saved, appeared to be outside the box – although there could be fewer complaints over the defender’s dismissal by referee Neil Swarbrick.
“If Leon thinks it’s outside the box and it is a penalty then he will be disappointed with that,” said De Laet. “Things go on at 100mph and it’s hard for the referee to see things like that, but obviously it’s not good if it goes against you the whole time.”
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It was De Laet’s error that helped Wigan to their opening goal from the spot last weekend and while the defender’s late block made amends, he underlined his redemption yesterday with the first competitive goal of his professional career – against the side who first brought him to England.
“I scored in pre-season – at the same end – so I’m happy with that,” said De Laet, who is making a habit of scoring in front of the Barclay. “This one is in the Premier League and it’s always something special when you score.
“Stoke took me over to England and I’ve got to thank them for that. I was there for a year and a half and they trained me, put time and effort in me.
“I didn’t really get a chance there and it’s just nice to get a chance to play against them and show what I’ve got. I haven’t seen (Stoke manager) Tony Pulis, but I’ve got no hard feelings or anything.”
One thing that stuck with De Laet was the terrific home support, in full voice for the 90 minutes on a special day for the club – and giving a more than appreciative reception to the City players at the final whistle. Although they afforded the opposite to Swarbrick.
“I think the fans saw how hard we worked today,” said De Laet. “The crowd kept behind us and kept believing in us and we believe we can get a lot of points here.
“It’s far away for some of the teams and nobody likes to come here with the crowd like this. It’s hostile as well, so if we can be strong, like we did today and with the football we can play, then I know we are going to win games.
“Obviously, two penalty decisions go against you and I think we have shown character to come back from that. I think we did that today and last week, and now it’s a case of looking to the game at Chelsea (on Saturday) and seeing how we react to that.”