Late strike sinks Wanderers

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Alex Neil was delighted his bold tactics paid off as Gary Hooper claimed a stoppage-time winner to keep Norwich on track for automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.

Super-sub Hooper’s goal from Cameron Jerome’s flick also inflicted only Bolton’s second Championship home defeat since his former Celtic boss, Neil Lennon, took charge at the Macron Stadium last October.

Graham Dorrans - with his first goal since moving from West Brom - gave second-placed Norwich a ninth-minute lead before Adam Le Fondre equalised for the home side with his sixth for the club nine minutes later.

“I was hoping it was going to come,” admitted Neil after Norwich completed a dramatic double over the Lancastrians. “We did everything we possibly could have done to force it to come.

“The one think you know about Gary Hooper is if you give him the ball in and around the box, he is a danger and it was a fantastic finish.

“I put him on with 25 minutes to go so he had plenty of time to make an impact.

“Gary is always pushing for a regular start. He has started certain games and done well and maybe not done so well in other games.

“We need to try and win every remaining game. If it means I am going to throw caution to the wind and go for it and it costs us, well I would rather do that than play defensively and see out a draw which over the piece probably won’t be good enough.

“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 you live and die by.

“If we play to our full potential there is no reason why we can’t win games between now and the end of the season.

“But I don’t think there is any question there will be dropped points. We just want to make sure it is not us.

“People were saying Bolton hadn’t got much to play for but looking at that game it didn’t suggest that at all.

“It was an open match they went for it, we did likewise because we had to win the game.”

Bolton boss Lennon was full of praise for Hooper, and said: “He is the best striker I have worked with. I got him from Scunthorpe for £1.5 million and sold him for £6million.

“He scored all kinds of goals for me at the highest level. He is brilliant player. I am surprised he is not being used more.

“But Alex has his own way of playing and it is obviously working.”

Lennon rued his side’s result, adding: “We can’t keep giving away last-minute goals.

“It is a lack of moral fibre. And I really have to be careful how I go about it because I don’t want to put myself or the club in a bad light.

“However, it is totally unacceptable that with two minutes to go, we can leave a £6million striker in front of goal with a free shot.

“It is not as though Norwich cut us open with a brilliant piece of football. It was a diagonal ball, a knock down and Gary is in acres.

“It is not good enough even though we are not far away. It was criminal defending and it is happening far too often.”