Nottingham Forest 2 Norwich City 1
17:00 08 November 2014
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Norwich City crashed to a stoppage time 2-1 Championship defeat against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
The Canaries looked to have responded to a midweek mauling at Middlesbrough with Jonny Howson putting them in front before the interval but two goals in the final eight minutes rocked Neil Adams’ side.
Britt Assombalonga slotted Matty Fryatt’s cross after City had failed to clear a hanging ball forward before Michail Antonio rolled a strike underneath John Ruddy to complete the comeback for Stuart Pearce’s side and end his club’s run of 11 games without a win.
Adams made three changes to the starting line up that slumped to a 4-0 Championship defeat at Middlesbrough in midweek. Steven Whittaker dropped out with Carlos Cuellar coming in to partner Michael Turner for his Norwich league debut and captain Russell Martin switching to right-back.
Bradley Johnson came into a re-shaped midfield with Gary O’Neil and Alex Tettey forming a shield behind Howson and Nathan Redmond making way.
Lewis Grabban was back in from the start alongside Cameron Jerome. Pearce elected to restore Assombalonga to his starting line up but former Norwich loanee Henri Lansbury was only on the substitutes’ bench.
Both sets of players, coaching staff and supporters paused before kick-off for a minute’s silence to remember the fallen as a lone trumpeter led a moving tribute in the centre circle.
Martin earned a swift yellow card two minutes into the contest for hauling back Antonio but City cleared the danger.
Karl Darlow had to beat away Howson’s cross in a vibrant opening with the Forest fans responding to Pearce’s pre-match rallying cry to whip up the volume at the City Ground.
Jerome linked with Grabban to free Johnson but his drifting cross flew beyond O’Neil.
City survived a scare in the 11th minute when Martin Olsson was caught under the ball allowing Tom Ince to lift a curling left-footed shot onto the roof of Ruddy’s net.
Norwich broke through in the 16th minute when Howson drove into the Forest box to drill past Darlow from 14 yards to finish a flowing move down the City right.
Martin chipped a long pass into the overlapping Jerome but his cross intended for Grabban was hammered behind with City looking to profit on the counter at every opportunity in the aftermath of Howson’s strike.
Grabban spurned a chance to double Norwich’s lead in the 27th minute when he rose unmarked but planted a header wide seven yards out from Martin’s cross.
The former Bournemouth striker then sneaked in behind the Forest backline to collect Johnson’s pass but his deflected cross looped into the arms of Darlow.
The Forest fans were becoming increasingly agitated at City’s growing control with a chorus of boos greeting Michael Mancienne’s aimless pass after O’Neil had hunted the defender down on the edge of his own area.
Forest’s best bet looked from a set piece as the half developed, with Tettey hauling down Assombalonga but Ruddy was able to watch his 25-yard effort fly over his bar.
Ruddy then dropped on Antonio’s tame far post header after the wide player pulled off the shoulder of Cuellar to anticipate Jack Hunt’s raking cross.
Pearce made a half-time change with Jamie Paterson replacing the ineffectual Ince.
Olsson surged forward as City looked to carry on where they had left off and his burst earned a free kick for Assombalonga’s hand ball, but Jerome miscued in a crowded Forest box.
Cuellar then lifted a pass down the right channel for Grabban to exploit but Mancienne defended his near post as Howson closed in.
Darlow denied Grabban with a one-handed parry from an acute angle after Howson and O’Neil had triggered a flowing counter.
Martin’s errant pass triggered a momentary alarm but Assombalonga’s swinging hit embarrassingly swerved out of play for a throw-in.
Howson then picked out Grabban’s diagonal run but the initial trickery to lose his man was not matched by the tame shot.
Cuellar then dived out to confront Fryatt at the concession of a corner as the Trent End found its collective voice. Antonio was then allowed to advance but clubbed a 25-yard shot over.
Pearce went for broke approaching the final quarter with a double change which included Lansbury, who entered the fray to applause from the travelling contingent in recognition of his efforts in the Canaries’ Championship promotion success of 2011.
Johnson’s free kick looped wide after Grabban headed against a Forest defender but the Reds’ cleared the danger.
Assombalonga towered above Cuellar but directed his close range header the wrong side of Ruddy’s left-hand post from nine yards out as the aerial threat from Forest became increasingly evident.
Lansbury’s knockdown was cleared by the grounded Cuellar with City now pinned back and Adams responded to the growing pressure as Jerome made way for Lafferty.
Ruddy spilled a Forest corner before his miscued goal kick dropped straight to Ben Osborn who tried an ambitious long range shot with the Norwich keeper scrambling back towards his line.
Lafferty earned his latest yellow card for a lunging attempt designed to prevent Mancienne from getting Forest on the front foot.
Forest levelled in the 85th minute when Assombalonga swept home Fryatt’s cross after City failed to clear a hanging ball in an echo of the initial build up that had led to Middlesbrough’s second at the Riverside.
The powerful front man was then crowded out as Forest launched a swift counter in a bid to complete the comeback.
Johnson worked some space on the edge of the Forest area but lashed over. The City midfielder then burst past three Forest defenders but Jamaal Lascelles cleared at his far post as Lafferty closed in.
But City’s desperate search for a winner proved their undoing when from the corner Forest sprung a counter that ended with Antonio rolling the ball underneath Ruddy to spark wild scenes of celebration amongst the home fans and the pumped-up Pearce.
• Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Harding (Lansbury 66), Mancienne, Fryatt, Assombalonga, Lascelles, Hunt (Lichaj 66), Antonio, Ince (Paterson 45), Tesche, Osborn. Subs (not used): de Vries, Collins, Blackstock, Burke.
• Bookings: Tesche (foul on Lafferty, 88); Antonio (ungentlemanly conduct, 90)
• Goals: Assombalonga (85), Antonio (90)
• Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Cuellar, Turner, Olsson, O’Neil, Tettey, Johnson, Howson, Grabban, Jerome (Lafferty 75). Subs (not used): Rudd, Whittaker, Hooper, Hooiveld, Josh Murphy, Redmond.
• Bookings: Martin (foul on Antonio, 2); Tettey (foul on Antonio, 62); Lafferty (foul on Mancienne, 82)
• Goal: Howson (16)
• Added on time: 1 minute / 4 minutes
• Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorks)
• Attendance: 24,783 (2,002 away fans)