Norwich 1, Sheffield Weds 2
DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City 1, Sheffield Wednesday 2: Norwich City suffered their first home defeat under manager Peter Grant as their clash with Sheffield Wednesday burst into life in a dramatic finale at Carrow Road.
Norwich City 1, Sheffield Wednesday 2
Norwich City suffered their first home defeat under manager Peter Grant as their clash with Sheffield Wednesday burst into life in a dramatic finale at Carrow Road.
The Owls went ahead 12 minutes from time when a shot from Madjid Bougherra struck the bar and went in off the back of goalkeeper Lee Camp.
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Deon Burton made it 2-0 four minutes later, finishing off a cross from Tommy Spurr after a slip at the near post by Dion Dublin.
Dublin reduced the arrears five minutes from time when he headed in a free-kick by Darren Huckerby from close range.
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But the real talking point came two minutes from the end when referee Andy Woolmer awarded City a penalty for handball by Lee Bullen, only to change his mind after consulting a linesman and award Wednesday a free-kick for offside.
The Canaries were without striker Robert Earnshaw, ruled out with a knee injury, but there was better news before kick-off when it was confirmed that Huckerby had signed a one year extension to his current contract.
Robert Earnshaw, joint top scorer in the Championship was a surprise absentee from the side to take on Sheffield Wednesday.
Earnshaw failed a late fitness test on a knee injury he suffered in training yesterday.
It meant a place in the starting line-up for Ryan Jarvis, starting a league match for the first time this season.
Peter Thorne was also recalled in attack after being left out of the 11 at Sunderland last week because of concerns over a thigh strain.
Thorne was back, but midfielder Youssef Safri was out, serving a one match ban after picking up five bookings.
Lee Camp was making his third and final appearance in goal before returning to Derby at the end of his loan spell.
Among the substitutes was Ian Henderson, in the first team squad for the first time since injuring his knee at Rotherham in the Carling Cup in September.
Sheffield Wednesday manager Brian Laws made one change to the team that won 4-1 at Leicester last week. Midfielder Kenny Lunt was recalled after suspension, with Yoann Folly the unlucky one to miss out.
Before kick-off, City's Dion Dublin was presented with the player of the month award for November.
Wednesday kicked off, defending the Barclay goal, and quickly won a throw in by the right corner flag. As the ball came into the box it took a timely header from Dublin to avert any danger.
The visitors won a fourth minute free-kick when Etuhu fouled Andrews and Dublin once more showed his strength in the air heading clear as Lunt floated the ball into the box.
The first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to Whelan when he fouled Huckerby wide on the left, but City were unable to make headway from the free-kick as Robinson's cross was easily headed clear.
With seven minutes gone, the Canaries put together the best move so far with Huckerby and Etuhu combining well to set up Drury, whose determination took him into the Wednesday area where his cross from the left was headed away bravely by Spurr, who just got ahead of Thorne to concede a corner.
A determined run by Hughes almost created an opening for Thorne, but the midfielder's final ball was cut out when Thorne perhaps felt the pass should have come sooner.
City had an even better opportunity on 10 minutes when an astute ball from Jarvis sent Huckerby racing clear of two defenders but with keeper Crossley advancing, Huckerby screwed his left foot effort wide of the target.
As the visitors broke clear Burton's run took him deep into the Norwich half and he found Whelan with a square pass to the edge of the area, but Whelan's first time effort was fired high over the bar. In the build up to that attack, City defender Colin suffered a bang on the head in colliding with a team-mate and play was held up for a couple on minutes while physio Neal Reynolds attended to the full-back.
Soon afterwards, Colin was getting attention of a different kind from the referee, who showed him the second yellow card of the match for a foul on Tudgay.
Wednesday won a corner after 19 minutes when Tudgay's long range effort was deflected wide and the flag kick prompted a bit of a scramble at Camp's near post before Colin managed to clear. From the resulting throw, Wednesday skipper Bullen managed to get in a back header, but Camp grabbed it safely with both hands.
Andrews was seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages for the Owls and when he tried his luck with a right footer from 25-yards, he was not too far off target.
The first quarter of the match had been a fairly scrappy affair and apart from Huckerby's miss, there had been little in the way of clear cut openings for either side.
Simek weaved his way deep into the Norwich area as Wednesday pressed again and it took a timely challenge from Drury to stop him in his tracks. The visitors continued to grow in confidence and Dublin made an important block when Tudgay let fly from just outside the box.
Camp's handling was looking sound and he came out confidently on the half hour to gather a cross from Brunt after Tudgay had made inroads into the City half.
City put together an excellent passing move a minute later with Thorne, Etuhu and Jarvis all involved but as the final pass from Jarvis put Huckerby clear, the linesman flagged for offside.
A foul by Dublin on Tudgay gave Wednesday a free-kick 10-yards into the Norwich half but the veteran quickly made amends with a careful header back to Camp as the free-kick came in. City counterattacked quickly and Jarvis hooked in a cross from the left, but Robinson was unable to get any power into his header and it was a comfortable catch for Crossley.
Things were livening up and when a corner from Brunt was headed away by Robinson, Lunt reacted with a stunning volley which Camp did well to tip away.
City swept into a counterattack and Thorne headed narrowly over from an excellent cross by Huckerby.
It was now end to end action and Brunt should have done better than shoot wide after another Wednesday free-kick had been nodded into his path.
Burton tried to make room for a shot inside the Norwich area but miscued so badly that his left foot effort was sliced out for a throw-in.
Five minutes before the break, the visitors created their best opening yet and it took a fine save by Camp to deny them the lead. Spurr played a one-two with Tudgay and the full-back fired in a low left foot shot, which the keeper did extremely well to turn away at the expense of a corner.
In the last minute of the half, a foul by Simek on Huckerby gave City a free-kick wide on the left. Huckerby floated in the dead ball kick and it was headed clear as far as Colin, who tried his luck with a right foot drive which he struck cleanly but which was three or four yards wide of Crossley's right hand post.
Half-time: Norwich City 0, Sheffield Wednesday 0.
There was a scare for the Canaries less than a minute into the second half when Burton turned neatly past Dublin and his right foot drive from more than 25-yards was only a whisker over the bar, although it appeared that Camp may well have had it covered.
Colin aimed a centre towards the penalty spot as City pushed forward but Crossley came out to make a confident catch, with Jarvis waiting for any slip.
Shackell did well to block a full blooded shot by Lunt as the visitors switched quickly to attack.
Referee Woolmer produced the yellow card again six minutes into the half when Lunt brought down Huckerby.
City were under a bit of pressure at this stage and Hughes got back to make an important clearance at the expense of a corner.
The in-swinging corner by Brunt almost sneaked through at the near post and Norwich were relieved to be able to clear their lines.
There were cries of “shoot” from the home crowd when Huckerby found midfielder Etuhu just outside the area but, in looking to add to his four goals for the season, his right foot shot lacked power and Crossley was right behind it.
Brunt was looking dangerous for the Owls and he cut in from the right touchline to test Camp with a powerful left foot drive which the keeper seemed to misjudge and the ball spun away from him, leaving Hughes to hook it clear, though not entirely convincingly.
With 58 minutes played, City boss Grant made his first substitution by sending on McVeigh in place of Jarvis.
Still Wednesday kept pushing forward and Camp was out again to gather a cross from Andrews low at the near post.
McVeigh's first touch came when he sliced the ball across the edge of the six-yard box where Robinson met it with a header, but it lacked the power to trouble Crossley.
There was a loud cheer from the home crowd as Bougherra hammered one clearance on to the roof of the Jarrold Stand, no mean feat in itself, but there were groans a minute later when Etuhu attempted a left foot volley but sliced it into the crowd behind Crossley's goal.
There was another escape for City after 64 minutes when Shackell produced a vital diving header to deflect a fierce drive from Andrews wide of the target.
It was Andrews' last contribution of the afternoon when MacLean was sent on in his place.
Huckerby carved out another opening for City with an excellent ball to Hughes but as the midfielder homed in on goal, his right foot shot took a deflection and flew over the top.
Dublin and Shackell certainly had their work cut out as City came under a spell of pressure from the visitors and a centre from Brunt almost caused problems when it took a deflection and swirled just over the angle of crossbar and post.
After 71 minutes, City had the ball in the net but the cheers of the home crowd were premature. Robinson's in-swinging corner from the left was headed in by Thorne, but the effort was disallowed because of an infringement, with Shackell appearing to foul keeper Crossley.
A miscued pass from Hughes almost proved costly for Norwich when it was intercepted by Tudgay and as Wednesday pushed forward quickly, Brunt sent a powerful left foot effort just wide of the target.
Hughes was involved again as the match entered the last quarter of an hour when he aimed a long ball towards Thorne from the halfway line, but Crossley, whose handling had been excellent, made another clean catch.
With 12 minutes left Wednesday scored the goal they had been threatening through Bougherra, but there was an element of misfortune for goalkeeper Camp. A cross from Brunt was chested down to Bougherra, who struck a powerful right foot drive which cleared Camp and rattled the crossbar but as it bounced off, it struck Camp on the shoulder and rebounded behind him into the net.
With less than nine minutes to go Wednesday sent on Folly in place of Lunt.
With eight minutes left, Wednesday extended their lead through Burton. Whelan found Spurr on the left and he crossed to the near post where Dublin made a hash of his attempt to clear and Burton got ahead of Shackell to tuck the ball home.
City were not quite finished yet, however, and they reduced the deficit with five minutes left through Dublin.
Huckerby's free-kick from the left side eluded everyone in the six-yard box and Dublin scored with a simple header from no more than a couple of yards out.
There was drama with two minutes left when City thought they had been awarded a penalty but it proved not to be the case. Bullen appeared to handle as Robinson headed the ball into the area and the referee pointed to the spot, but after consulting his linesman, he changed his mind and gave Wednesday a free-kick for offside.
The fourth official signalled that an extra five minutes would be played at the end of the game, so there was still time for City to try to salvage something.
There was a momentary flare up when Spurr fouled Huckerby and was thrown to the ground by the Norwich forward in his frustration. Spurr was shown the yellow card and then the referee held up play while he walked across to book Shackell.
Result: Norwich City 1, Sheffield Wednesday 2
Norwich: Camp, Colin, Shackell, Dublin, Drury, Hughes, Etuhu, Robinson, Huckerby, Thorne, Ryan Jarvis. Subs: Lewis, McVeigh,
Henderson, Eagle, Spillane.
Sheff Wed: Crossley, Simek, Bullen, Bougherra, Spurr, Andrews,
Lunt, Whelan, Brunt, Tudgay, Burton. Subs: Adamson, Coughlan,
O'Brien, MacLean, Folly.
Referee: K Woolmer (Northamptonshire)