Norwich 1, Cardiff 2
DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Carrow Road when they were caught cold by two second-half goals from Cardiff. Substitute Peter Whittingham was the man who changed the game for the visitors when he scored the equaliser and set up the winner to stun the home crowd.
Norwich City snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Carrow Road when they were caught cold by two second-half goals from Cardiff.
Substitute Peter Whittingham was the man who changed the game for the visitors when he scored the equaliser and set up the winner to stun the home crowd.
The Canaries took the lead after 11 minutes when Cardiff keeper Ross Turnbull was put under pressure by a poor back pass from Chris Gunter and hacked the ball only as far as Simon Lappin, who knocked it back past him into the net from 30 yards.
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Dion Dublin, skipper in the absence of the injured Jason Shackell, had already had a goal disallowed and the hosts dominated the first half.
But Cardiff drew level after 64 minutes when a cross by Darcy Blake brushed the head of Dublin and was knocked in at the far post by Whittingham.
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The winner came seven minutes from time when defender Roger Johnson headed home from a Whittingham corner.
Darren Huckerby made his first Carrow Road appearance of the season, playing the final 19 minutes, but his introduction did not turn the game back in Norwich's favour.
Jason Shackell ruled out by injury as City showed four changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday's Carling Cup tie at Rochdale. Adam Drury and striker Jamie Cureton, both of whom missed the Rochdale game with injury, were recalled while Luke Chadwick was included in the 11 for the first time since the opening day of the season at Preston, and Chris Brown returned in attack.
Out from Tuesday's 11 were Huckerby, Chris Martin and new signing Ian Murray, who were all on the bench, while Shackell lost his battle for fitness after suffering an ankle injury at Spotland. Dion Dublin replaced Shackell as skipper and took his place in the back four.
Cardiff made three changes to the team who started the Carling Cup victory over Leyton Orient. Defender Darren Purse was ruled out by a knee injury, while Peter Whittingham and Paul Parry were relegated to the bench. Into manager David Jones' chosen 11 came defender Glen Loovens, wide midfielder Joe Ledley and former England World Cup player Trevor Sinclair. Providing the main attacking threat were former England international Robbie Fowler and the veteran Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink.
Cardiff, wearing an all black strip, kicked off in bright sunshine defending the Barclay goal. Loovens conceded the first free-kick with a foul on Brown but City were unable to make anything of it. Moments later a long clearance by Dublin had keeper Turnbull racing from his line to kick clear as Cureton closed in but in any case the offside flag had been raised.
A cross from Sinclair posed a few problems in the home defence before Norwich could clear their lines and they broke again through Cureton but he was penalised for a foul on Johnson.
A promising run by Chadwick was halted by a strong challenge by fullback Gunter and Cardiff pushed forward again, Marshall having to leap to cut out a centre from Ledley at the expense of a corner. The flag kick was cleared as far as Sinclair and he struck a swerving right-foot shot just past the post.
Cureton was penalised again with six minutes gone, earning a quiet word from the referee after a foul on Gunter, who was still hobbling from the previous tackle.
The Canaries thought they had taken the lead after seven minutes when a foul by Sinclair on Lappin handed them a free-kick on the edge of the Cardiff area. Lappin floated in the perfect cross from the left and Dublin rose to head home, but the celebrations and the music were cut short when Mr Penton signalled a foul as Dublin climbed above Rae.
The disallowed goal had given Norwich heart, however, and the crowd had the real thing to celebrate after 11 minutes when Lappin gave them the lead as Cardiff committed suicide at the back.
Gunter delayed far too long when he should have cleared from the right-back position and instead he turned a poor pass back to Turnbull, who in turn left his goal and struck a poor clearance straight to Lappin who looked up and, from more than 20 yards, planted his carefully aimed shot into the back of the net before the keeper could regain his ground. It was Lappin's second goal of the season and crowned a bright start to the afternoon by the Scottish midfielder.
Norwich were well on top now and they threatened again when Drury's cross was chested down by Brown into the path of Cureton, whose snapshot was deflected off Loovens for a corner. Lappin's flag kick was a poor one but City were soon attacking down the opposite flank when Chadwick spied Otsemobor and his cross was met by a Russell header which flew wide.
Brown, still looking for his first goal for the club in a competitive game, glanced a header wide from a Lappin free-kick as the Canaries continued to hold the upper hand.
Chadwick was working well with Otsemobor on the right and another cross by the fullback found its way to Cureton, whose powerful shot was this time charged down by Johnson.
In a rare Cardiff break, Ledley embarked on a twisting run before crossing to Sinclair, but the former England man miscued his shot and it drifted well off target.
Cardiff were handed a dead ball opportunity when Russell was adjudged to have fouled McPhail on the halfway line, but the free-kick by Loovens was a poor one and Drury was able to let the ball drift out for a goal kick.
With 26 minutes gone, a free-kick by Lappin had Johnson back pedalling and he seemed in some discomfort after heading the ball out for a corner. Johnson carried on without treatment after a word from the referee and when the corner was knocked back to Drury, his cross was met with a glancing header from Doherty, which was just off target.
The home crowd, who had responded to Turnbull's error earlier in the game with chants of “dodgy keeper” were now looking for further errors and when Rae rolled the ball back to the keeper, they held their breath but this time his clearance carried beyond the halfway line.
At the other end Marshall fell awkwardly in collecting a cross from Ledley as Fowler tumbled over him on the six-yard line.
Marshall needed treatment and most players took the opportunity to have a quick drink close to the dugouts before play resumed.
Brown was winning his share of aerial balls and did well to get on the end of an Otsemobor free-kick but this time Turnbull was first to the loose ball and collected comfortably.
Chadwick broke up a Cardiff attack on the edge of his own penalty area with a challenge on Hasselbaink and he found Lappin with a glorious cross field ball. The midfielder knocked it back to Drury, who tried to pick out Brown on the edge of the area, only for Johnson to make a timely interception. Turnbull was under pressure again when he was forced to hack the ball clear from another Norwich attack and this time he sliced a poor effort into the crowd for a throw in.
With seven minutes left before the break, Sinclair pushed forward and found Ledley on the left hand edge of the Norwich area but the cross fell unkindly for the midfielder and he looped a very poor right foot shot into the crowd.
Dublin got back to deny the almost redundant Hasselbaink as the veteran striker chased a through ball from Rae and moments later Russell made a timely challenge on Fowler to dispossess the former England man as City continued to keep a fairly tight rein on Cardiff's high profile striking pair.
The visitors were getting into the game a little more by now and Doherty got back to clear at the expense of a corner as Rae moved on to a flick from Hasselbaink.
Dublin was commanding in the air and won at least three important headers in the space of a minute, the last of them in clearing a Sinclair corner.
There was a moment's danger in the final minute of the half when a long throw from Capaldi was flicked on across the face of the Norwich goal but by and large City had kept the threat from their visitors to a minimum in the opening 45 minutes.
In the two minutes of time added on, Drury blocked a shot from Sinclair as Cardiff had one last stab at getting on terms.
Cardiff made two changes at the start of the second half with Parry, who scored the only goal against the Canaries at Ninian Park last season, replacing Ledley and Blake on in place of Gunter, who had suffered an unhappy first period.
Russell was having quite a battle in midfield with McPhail and he suffered a bang on the back of the head in shutting down Cardiff's first attack of the half.
Turnbull was landed with another awkward situation four minutes after the break when a back pass from Loovens dropped short and the keeper rushed out to try to head the ball clear. His header lacked power but it would not drop kindly for City and in the end Lappin hooked a right-foot shot some way off target from at least 30 yards.
Hasselbaink was having a quiet afternoon up to now and was rather bemused when he was penalised for an infringement against Doherty as they battled for possession in the Norwich area.
At the other end Cureton was similarly dismayed when he appeared to be bundled over by McPhail on the edge of the Cardiff area as he moved onto a pass from Russell.
The home crowd were angry nine minutes into the half when Fowler appeared to head the ball wide from a cross by Blake but the referee awarded a corner. Sinclair took two corners in quick succession but Norwich held firm and moments later, Drury and Dublin showed great determination as they combined to stop Hasselbaink getting in a shot on the edge of the area.
Still the Canaries looked bright when they attacked and a header from Brown fell nicely for Cureton, who showed real persistence in making room for a cross to the far post, which was just behind Chadwick.
With just over half an hour to go, Cardiff manager Jones made his third and final change by bringing on Whittingham in place of Fowler and pushing Parry into a striking role alongside Hasselbaink.
A superb through-ball from Dublin was pounced on by Cureton and it took excellent tidying up by Johnson to deny the little striker a run at goal.
With Norwich looking fairly comfortable, it came as something of a shock when Cardiff levelled the scores after 64 minutes through Whittingham.
A throw-in on the right touchline fell to Blake and his cross towards the penalty spot was inadvertently flicked on by Dublin, enabling Whittingham to knock the ball past Marshall at the far post. The substitute had been on the field for just five minutes and it was his second goal in successive games after his midweek winner against Orient in the Carling Cup.
Russell's persistence earned City a corner as they fought to restore their lead and he suffered a knock when he landed badly.
Cardiff struggled to clear the corner and there were appeals for a penalty when Russell's fierce drive from the edge of the area struck the outstretched arm of Loovens. City were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, although replays suggested it was a very tight decision and Loovens was shown the yellow card for handling. Lappin's kick struck the ball and he fired the rebound right-footed over the bar.
With 71 minutes gone, Grant made his first change by sending on Huckerby in place of Chadwick and the move almost paid immediate dividends. With his first touch, Huckerby skipped past the challenge of Blake but was denied by a superb tackle from Rae at the expense of a corner. Doherty rose to meet Lappin's flag kick but headered just over the top.
It was end-to-end football now and Marshall kept City on terms when he saved with his legs from Whittingham after Hasselbaink had teed up the chance.
City hit back and Russell carved enough space for a shot on the turn, only to be denied by another great challenge from Rae.
Huckerby's arrival had the crowd in expectant mood but his next contribution was to float in a cross which was just too high for Dublin and the opportunity was gone.
It was anybody's game at this stage and Otsemobor delivered an excellent ball into the path of Cureton on the right, but with Huckerby hovering on the penalty spot, Cureton's low centre was cut out.
There was a delay with just over 10 minutes left when Johnson was treated in the centre circle after a collision with one of his own team mates. Both sides decided to have another drink but the crowd were becoming impatient with the amount of time it took for Johnson to get to his feet and walk to the touchline.
With nine minutes to go, City made their second change when Croft replaced Brellier.
City's worst fears were confirmed seven minutes from time when Cardiff snatched the lead with the simplest of goals. Whittingham swung in a corner from the left and Johnson, who minutes before had been sitting on the turf receiving treatment, rose to power a header beyond Marshall. Johnson raced towards the Cardiff dugout to celebrate, all the time producing an exaggerated limp as some kind of joke.
As the minutes ticked away, Dublin was pushed into attack for City with Drury partnering Doherty in the centre of defence and Lappin moving to left back. Otsemobor aimed a long ball from the halfway line towards Dublin and Brown but for once, Turnbull came out and made a clean catch.
Brown was agonisingly close to an equaliser in the final minute when he met Otsemobor 's cross with a shot on the turn which flashed inches past Turnbull's right-hand post.
The fourth official signalled four extra minutes for City to try to salvage something from a game they had dominated for the first hour.
Whittingham was close to scoring his second in stoppage time with a volley from a Parry cross which Marshall trapped on the line with his legs.