NERVE­LESS NEIL WON’T SIT BACK

Hooper’s late goal sinks the Trot­ters

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John McDougall

GARY Hooper’s late strike claimed three key points for Nor­wich in a last gasp win over Bolton – leav­ing Ca­naries boss Alex Neil purring over the for­ward’s goalscor­ing in­stincts.

The ex-Celtic man’s fin­ish deep into in­jury time saw Nor­wich seal their fourth suc­ces­sive win, af­ter Adam Le Fon­dre had can­celled out Gra­ham Dor­rans’ early opener.

And Ca­naries boss Neil vowed to con­tinue to play at­tack­ing foot­ball in their quest for Pre­mier League pro­mo­tion.

“The one thing we know about Gary is if you give him the ball in and about the box, he’s got real qual­ity and he’s a dan­ger,” he said.

“If we can get him into good po­si­tions, the one thing Gary’s got is goals in him, there’s no ques­tions about that.

“My job’s sim­ple, I said it be­fore the game – we’ve got five games and we need to try and win ev­ery one.

“If it means I’m go­ing to throw cau­tion to the wind and go for it and it maybe costs us, then I would rather do that than play de­fen­sive and see out a draw which prob­a­bly over the piece won’t be good enough for us.”

“I was pleased with the de­ci­sions I made – now they have paid off. Had we con­ceded it might have been dif­fer­ent but those are the de­ci­sions that you live and die by.”

The high fly­ing Ca­naries took a ninth minute lead when Dor­rans’ free-kick took a wicked de­flec­tion off the Bolton wall to fly past a stranded Adam Bog­dan.

Jonny How­son nearly found the back of the net four min­utes later to dou­ble Nor­wich’s lead with a thun­der­ing long-dis­tance ef­fort that Bog­dan ex­pertly par­ried wide.

De­spite Nor­wich’s early dom­i­nance, the Trot­ters hit back when Tom Walker’s pin­point 18thminute left-wing cross found Le Fon­dre who buried his sixth in Bolton colours from close range.

Walker nearly bagged his sec­ond as­sist of the day when his 21st-minute de­liv­ery evaded all ex­cept Liam Feeney who fired just wide.

Af­ter the break, the lively Dor­rans nearly capped off a sub­lime Nor­wich 63rd-minute attack with a left-footed ef­fort, but Tim Ream and Bog­dan com­bined to deny the Scots­man his sec­ond.

Walker again de­liv­ered a sub­lime cross for Eidur Gud­johnsen but the vet­eran headed the 68thminute ef­fort into the ground and John Ruddy col­lected the loose ball.

But as the spoils were about to be shared, Nor­wich sub­sti­tute Hooper broke Bolton hearts with a chipped fin­ish af­ter latch­ing onto Cameron Jerome’s ball deep into stop­page time.

And mo­ments later a mix-up in the Bolton rear­guard nearly led to a third af­ter Jerome fed in Lewis Grab­ban to go one-on-one but an on­rush­ing Bog­dan de­nied him.

Bolton boss Neil Len­non – who man­aged Hooper at Celtic – slammed his side’s de­fend­ing and vowed to make changes.

“It’s just un­ac­cept­able, to­tally un­ac­cept­able that with two min­utes to go we can leave a £6mil­lon striker in front of goal with a free shot – where we go, I have no idea,” Len­non said.

“It was a di­ag­o­nal, it was a knock­down, and he’s in acres – it’s just not good enough so I am go­ing to have to make changes there’s no ques­tion of that.

“The dif­fer­ence is Nor­wich can bring on a £6mil­lion striker who I know very well be­cause we de­vel­oped him for three years and he’s one of the best around.

“Gary Hooper is the best striker I have worked with. I got him from Scun­thorpe for £1.5m and sold him for £6m.

“But it’s crim­i­nal de­fend­ing from our point of view and it’s hap­pen­ing far too of­ten.

“We can’t keep giv­ing away last-minute goals, it’s just a lack of moral fi­bre I think.”

PIC­TURE:Ac­tion Images

LAST GASP: Gary Hooper cel­e­brates his late win­ner with Cameron Jerome

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