NEIL’S FAITH RE­PAID BY HOOPER

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Sam Jermy

ALEX NEIL de­cided to play Gary Hooper in­stead of his dead­line-day sign­ing Tony Andreu in the No10 role, and it paid off em­phat­i­cally as Hooper bagged a hat-trick in Nor­wich’s victory over Black­pool.

The Ca­naries boss brought Hooper back into the side to play be­hind Lewis Grab­ban who spear­headed the attack in a 4-2-31 for­ma­tion, mean­ing Jerome and Andreu had to set­tle for places on the bench.

Hooper grasped his op­por­tu­nity with both hands as he struck two first-half goals be­fore round­ing off his man-of-the-match dis­play by coolly scor­ing a 56th minute penalty.

Nathan Red­mond fin­ished the rout for Nor­wich by step­ping up and hit­ting an un­stop­pable free­kick in the last minute of the game, his third goal of the sea­son.

Alex Neil said: “To score four goals and to keep a clean sheet is al­ways pleas­ing.

“Th­ese games can be tricky be­cause we are on a bit of a hid­ing to noth­ing, if we win com­fort­ably peo­ple will say we are ex­pected to and then if you don’t it al­most feels like a de­feat.

“Not only has Hooper got that fin­ish­ing abil­ity, he also works re­ally hard and so does the group as a whole.

“Cer­tainly the first half we har­ried af­ter the ball, looked hun­gry and cre­ated a lot of chances, even be­fore the goal.

“We could have been more than 2-0 up at half-time due to the op­por­tu­ni­ties we had but on the whole the group worked re­ally hard and pleased with the re­sult.

“We need to make sure the work ethic and all the other parts of Hooper’s game is as high as we can pos­si­bly get it.

“I ex­pect ev­ery­one to give 100 per cent and I thought we got that from all the play­ers to­day so I am happy.”

Black­pool had the first real chance with a Jamie O’Hara free-kick but it was well over.

Hooper’s first goal came on the 12th minute when a per­fect through ball from How­son saw him race clear and calmly slot the ball past a help­less El­liot Parish.

Nor­wich were forced into sub­bing on Michael Turner for Se­bas­tian Bas­song on the 20th minute due to a back in­jury but it did not af­fect them as three min­utes later Hooper had got his sec­ond.

An amaz­ing bit of in­tri­cate skills saw Hooper play a one-two with Wes Hoola­han in the box and then ri­fle the ball into the net.

Grab­ban had two good chances but fired over the first time and then was caught off­side to leave it 2-0 at the break.

Black­pool had a five minute spell deep in the Nor­wich half af­ter the break but on 55 min­utes Peter Clarke was ad­judged to have made a foul on Hooper, who then stepped up to com­plete his hat-trick.

The vis­i­tors sin­gle shot of note came from the boot of An­drea Or­landi, but Ruddy saved well and the cor­ner came to noth­ing.

Then on the stroke of the 90th minute, Red­mond stepped on to fire a long-range free-kick into the net to com­plete the 4-0 win.

Lee Clark said: I thought the first three goals were re­ally poor, and ba­sic lapses in de­fence re­ally.

“We looked pretty de­cent with the ball, but it is cru­cial to do the right things off the ball, and we made it so easy for them.

“It’s hard enough with the qual­ity we’re com­ing up against be­cause we know their qual­ity, so to de­fend like that makes it eas­ier for them.

“Lis­ten, other re­sults to­day means we are no fur­ther away so we’ll keep on fight­ing.

“Our home form is good, but we need to start pick­ing up point away be­cause we can’t just rely on our home form.

“I spoke to the play­ers, it has to be some­thing that changes on our next away game.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

TRE­BLE: Nor­wich City’s Gary Hooper scores their sec­ond and, inset, Hooper com­pletes his hat-trick from the spot

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