'Best team in the division' - Bristol boss hails City's stylish success

Bristol City Manager Dean Holden during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich
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Bristol City manager Dean Holden during his team's defeat at Carrow Road - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Bristol City boss Dean Holden believes Norwich City are 'without a shadow of a doubt' the best team in the Championship this season, after seeing the Canaries complete a league double over his play-off chasing team.

City followed up their 3-1 win at Ashton Gate in October with a dominant 2-0 victory at Carrow Road on Wednesday evening, thanks to a brace from striker Jordan Hugill.

"The better team won the game, no doubt about that," admitted the Robins manager. "They are the best team in the division without a shadow of a doubt, in my opinion.

"We started brightly in the first half, we were well in the game. Daniel Bentley has had some saves to make.

"We’ve come out in the second half and played more in their half of the pitch, more in their territory. We had some balls going into the box and it was difficult to get on the end of them."

 After a succession of chances for the hosts, Hugill finally made sure of the win in the 76th minute when he bundled in from close range after good play from Max Aarons - but Holden did question whether a foul should have been given in the build-up.

"The second goal was the one that put the game to bed," he continued. "We just made a change to Nahki Wells to really go for the game.

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"There’s no doubt that Hugill puts a forearm across Tommy Rowe’s face – not on purpose, I don’t think it was meant at all. Certainly Rowe goes down with a head injury. I’m not sure why the game wasn’t stopped.

"But at the same time, we still have to look to defend it better and that second goal really killed it."

REPORT: Hugill brace ensures superb City beat Bristol

However, with Norwich moving seven points clear at the summit and Bristol left ninth and six points adrift of the play-offs, Holden knew the better team had won.

"We weren’t able to get anywhere near enough," the former Oldham and Peterborough defender added. "The way that they play, they’re so expansive and move the ball, they make the pitch really big.

"Having said that, when they turn it over, they can be quite open at times and we thought that was our moment and we just weren’t able to get that pass off, that first or second pass, to be able to get in. There were so many near misses.

"From our point of view, that’s why we have to look to improve in the next one. Certainly on the weekend against Preston, we were very good, we moved the ball crisply and we passed it much better than we did tonight. That’s the standard that we have to get back to."

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