Alex Neil: Norwich City boss praises Canaries' 'bottle'

By Phil ShepkaBBC Sport at Carrow Road
Alex Neil
Neil left Hamilton to take charge of Norwich in January

Norwich City manager Alex Neil praised his side's "bottle" after beating rivals Ipswich Town to reach the Championship play-off final.

Town, down to 10 men after Christophe Berra's red card, equalised to make it 1-1, but Norwich eventually went on to win 3-1 and 4-2 on aggregate.

"What's disappointing is we conceded a sloppy goal," said Neil.

"Afterwards it takes bottle as the expectations are on us to break them down and we showed great composure."

Neil's side have booked a meeting with Middlesbrough at Wembley on 25 May, following the Teessiders' 5-1 aggregate victory over Brentford, as the Canaries bid to make an instant return to the Premier League.

And former Hamilton boss Neil, who has guided Norwich to 16 wins from his 24 games in charge, believes his team deserve credit for how they have coped with the hype surrounding a promotion push.

"I'm delighted for the players, everybody reminds us after every game that the pressure is on us and how good a squad we've got," he said.

"You could see the fans getting agitated in the first half but our message to the players was to keep calm, keep playing and not listen to the supporters.

"The game was always going to settle down in the second half, and it did, and ultimately we've got where we wanted to be."

Mick McCarthy
Mick McCarthy has now lost four times in the play-offs as a manager

Meanwhile, Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy was irked by referee Roger East's decision not to award Teddy Bishop a first-half penalty for a trip in the area.

"The game hinged on a two penalty decisions. I think we should have had one in the first half when Bish was brought down and the second one [against Berra] is a stonewall and with 10 men we're unlikely to win.

"Teddy says he got clipped and says it should have been a penalty."

McCarthy said he understood why Berra put his hand out to give Norwich a penalty, which Wes Hoolahan converted to open the scoring.

"Should he have pulled his hand away? Of course he should. But we're kind of hard-wired to stop the ball going into the net," added McCarthy.

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