The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Sam Jermy

ALEX Neil in­sists Nor­wich are still very much in the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion race af­ter his side swept away Not­ting­ham For­est at Car­row Road.

The Ca­naries were ahead just be­fore half-time when Wes Hoola­han found Jonny How­son, who slot­ted home past For­est keeper Karl Dar­low.

Cameron Jerome then dou­bled the hosts’ lead when he found space to back­heel Martin Ols­son’s de­liv­ery into the net.

Hoola­han made it 3-0 from the spot af­ter Ols­son was felled by Chris Burke, be­fore Burke him­self grabbed a con­so­la­tion for the vis­i­tors.

The re­sult leaves Nor­wich two points adrift of sec­ond-placed Wat­ford, and Neil backed his troops to close the gap.

The Nor­wich boss said:“As far as I was con­cerned, we have al­ways been right in the au­to­matic pic­ture. It is back to a one-game swing now, where if they lose and we win then we are right on the cusp of the top two.

“It sets us up nicely for the in­ter­na­tional break now and we are go­ing into that on a high.

“In terms of play­ing a good side on form, we dom­i­nated the match for the first 80 min­utes and I was ex­tremely pleased. I think the play­ers de­serve a lot of credit, they showed the hunger and de­sire it takes to be at the top end of the ta­ble.

“Es­pe­cially af­ter Tues­day night at Hud­der­s­field peo­ple start­ing ques­tion­ing our cre­den­tials a lit­tle bit. The last thing we want to do is have 80 min­utes of qual­ity foot­ball un­done by ten min­utes of sloppy foot­ball.

“We don’t need that creep­ing into our game, but to be fair we have been beat­ing teams on form quite a lot so I am over­all happy.”

Nor­wich started well and had an early penalty shout waved away af­ter Bradley John­son went down un­der pres­sure.

For­est couldn’t get a foothold and Hoola­han jinked into the box, but Henri Lans­bury blocked his ef­fort and af­ter a hand­ball ap­peal, Nor­wich won an­other cor­ner which For­est man­aged to clear.

The vis­i­tors’ most danger­ous attack early on was ended by Ols­son when he fouled Michail An­to­nio in a two-on-two sit­u­a­tion, and earned a yel­low card when it could have been a red.

City kept For­est en­trenched in their own half, and things did not get bet­ter when in­jured Dex­ter Black­stock had to be re­placed by Burke.

A spec­u­la­tive An­to­nio shot landed on the roof of the net be­fore John Ruddy blocked an­other ef­fort from the lively left winger.

The dead­lock was fi­nally bro­ken on 44 min­utes as Hoola­han waited for the on­rush­ing How­son who poked home past Dar­low.

Nor­wich re­ally took con­trol of the game on 56 min­utes when Ols­son gal­loped up to the by­line and cut the ball back for Jerome who non­cha­lantly back-heeled it into the net to make it 2-0.

And just three min­utes later Ols­son broke into the box and hit the deck; with the penalty awarded Hoola­han stepped to put Nor­wich three goals up.

For­est were given hope on 76 min­utes when Ruddy couldn’t hold a long-range shot, and Burke had the eas­i­est of tap-ins for 3-1.

Asked about For­est’s fad­ing play-off chances, boss Dougie Freed­man said: “I won’t ac­cept that we are out of the top-six pic­ture, be­cause from where we’ve come from with two wins in 20 games, we have come such a long way, in fact we have prob­a­bly come a long way too quickly and it has just caught up with us.

“I felt we were beaten by the bet­ter side, but I think there were a lot of lit­tle con­tribut­ing fac­tors that helped them.

“The 44th-minute goal was a body blow, the two goals in quick suc­ces­sion in the sec­ond half was hard to deal with, so a com­bi­na­tion of things didn’t help us.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

THREE ‘N EASY: Wes Hoola­han cel­e­brates scor­ing Nor­wich's third goal in a man-of-the match dis­play

TUS­SLE: Steven Whittaker and For­est’s Tyler Walker

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