Stoke were aggrieved that they had not been awarded a free-kick for a foul on Charlie Adam in the build-up to the goal and felt the free-kick which then was awarded to the hosts was harsh, but in a game of few chances, Norwich’s spirit ensured the result was a deserved one.
The home side had made a decent start, with Robert Snodgrass to the fore, but the first shot in anger came from Stoke as Adam curled one just wide from 20 yards after a loose clearance from Javier Garrido.
Anthony Pilkington had the first clear sight of goal for the home side after good work by Wes Hoolahan but Asmir Begovic was able to block his low eight-yard effort with his legs.
Adam went into the book for simulation after it appeared he had received a shove, but the Scottish midfielder was seen to better effect when he drilled one into John Ruddy’s midriff.
After Andy Wilkinson was booked for bringing down Snodgrass, the visitors claimed harshly, Johnson (44) rose highest to meet Snodgrass’ free-kick and flick the ball into the top corner to give the home side the lead.
Pilkington then skipped to the byline and cut the ball across for Snodgrass who could not provide the crucial touch with the goal gaping.
Early in the second period, Michael Turner missed his clearance to present Jon Walters with a glorious chance but the Stoke man, under pressure from Sebastien Bassong, could not beat Ruddy from 10 yards.
Pilkington volleyed over on the stretch while Alexander Tettey, a powerhouse in the home midfield, drilled one wide from 23 yards as Norwich looked to earn some breathing space.
One of Tony Pulis’ two substitutes Kenwyne Jones headed Adam’s free-kick straight at Ruddy and Peter Crouch hooked one volley over the top as the pressure mounted.