Norwich City 0, Sheffield Wednesday 1

DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City’s dismal start to the season went from bad to worse as a goal from Sheffield Wednesday’s Wade Small sent them crashing to their fifth defeat in six Championship games. The result brought an angry response from the home crowd and heaped more pressure on manager Peter Grant ahead of Tuesday’s home match against Scunthorpe United.

DAVID CUFFLEY

Norwich City's dismal start to the season went from bad to worse as a goal from Sheffield Wednesday's Wade Small sent them crashing to their fifth defeat in six Championship games.

Small struck after 75 minutes of the televised clash at Carrow Road when he scored from close range from a cross by Frank Simek to give the division's bottom team their second successive win.

The result brought an angry response from the home crowd and heaped more pressure on manager Peter Grant ahead of Tuesday's home match against Scunthorpe United.

City had a couple of early chances when Gary Doherty headed wide from a Simon Lappin free-kick and Rossi Jarvis fired over the top, but after a reasonable first half performance, they faded badly in the second period.

It was the Owls fifth successive win over Norwich and their third in a row at Carrow Road, but chants of “What a load of rubbish” at the final whistle summed up how the home crowd felt.

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Teenage midfield pair Michael Spillane and Rossi Jarvis retained their places in the City starting line-up after Tuesday's Carling Cup defeat at Manchester City but manager Peter Grant still made two changes.

Winger Lee Croft and midfielder Darel Russell were relegated to the substitutes' bench to accommodate the return of Darren Huckerby, who had recovered from an ankle injury, and Adam Drury, who shrugged off a sore back after missing the previous two games.

There were two strikers on the bench in David Strihavka and Chris Martin, but there was no sign of French midfielder Julien Brellier and Luke Chadwick, who were still sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Veteran Dion Dublin was serving the last game of a three match ban while skipper Jason Shackell was missing the second of his three games for his red card at Wolves.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws, who had made five changes for the midweek Carling Cup game against Everton, which they lost 3-0, reverted to the team that beat Hull 1-0 last Saturday to bring the Owls their first points of the season, with just one exception. Dutch winger Etienne Esajas was ruled out by injury and his place went to Wade Small.

Before kick-off, striker Jamie Cureton received his Golden Boot award for finishing as the top scorer in the Championship with Colchester last season.

Then the two teams lined up just before the start while there was one minutes' applause in respect of Johnny Gavin, City's all-time record goal scorer, who died earlier this month.

City kicked off with the floodlights already on for this live TV game and Cureton appeared to have won a throw-in near the left corner flag, only for the linesman to give the decision the other way.

Drury looked as if he took a slight whack on the back from an early challenge, something he was keen to avoid after his injury problem.

Wednesday won an early free-kick on the left hand side after a foul by Otsemobor, but the visitors wasted the dead ball opportunity.

With five minutes gone, Simek's cross was met by the head of Jeffers but his effort was a good five-yards wide of the target.

City won a free-kick by the right corner flag in the seventh minute and Doherty, skipper for the day, missed a useful chance to give them the lead. Lappin's kick reached the far post and Doherty climbed above Simek but did not make clean contact with his header and it skimmed past the post.

Norwich appeared to be operating with a three-man midfield with Jarvis on the right, Spillane in the centre and Lappin on the left, while there were three up front with Brown predominantly on the right, Cureton in the middle and Huckerby mainly on the left but free to roam around.

With 10 minutes gone City missed another golden chance when Drury's centre went beyond the far post and Brown did extremely well to nod it back into the path of Jarvis, but the young midfielder blazed his effort over the top, possibly distracted by the presence of Cureton.

As Wednesday pushed forward, Small's cross on the left found the head of Whelan but his effort was easily gathered by Marshall.

Huckerby was given his first real chance to run at the Owls' defence when Drury sent him clear after 16 minutes and Johnson did extremely well to cut out his centre at the near post.

As City continued to press, Otsemobor sent a long range effort flying over the top.

Spillane's enthusiasm earned him a yellow card after 18 minutes when he slid in with a challenge on Johnson. The Wednesday man seemed to make the most of the tackle as he rolled around on the turf and it was some time before referee Russell summoned Spillane and showed him the card, much to the annoyance of the home crowd with Johnson quickly back in action and heading clear for a throw-in.

Drury produced a fine challenge on Simek to earn applause from the home crowd, while Marshall made an excellent catch from a cross by Whelan. It had been a tidy opening from City but so far they had nothing to show for their efforts.

Otsemobor did well to head clear from a cross by Jeffers as the Owls pressed forward and then Spurr had a shooting opportunity on the left hand side of the area but his effort soared into the crowd.

A neat passing move ended with Otsemobor aiming his cross towards Cureton but the little striker was out-jumped by Wood, who easily headed clear. At the other end Jeffers tried his luck from the edge of the area from a pass by Small but floated his effort over the bar.

Otsemobor was fouled by Watson on the right touchline, giving City another dead ball opportunity. Lappin's kick into the area produced a game of head tennis but Spillane's final header from the edge of the box landed safely in keeper Grant's arms.

Another promising move was spoiled when Cureton tried to play in Spillane in the Wednesday area but the pass fell behind him as the youngster moved fractionally too soon.

With just over half an hour gone there was another yellow card when Kavanah fouled Cureton, though the challenge seemed fairly harmless. Moments later, Spillane was caught by a much later tackle by Watson which the official fouled to notice.

Twelve minutes before the break, The Owls made a surprise change when Tudgay replaced Jeffers in attack. The former Everton man did not appear to have taken a knock but may have been feeling under the weather.

Otsemobor almost found Cureton with a 50-yard pass into The Owls area, but Grant was out first to collect and there was more frustration when a cross from Huckerby drifted behind for a goal kick when he might have done better.

Drury and Huckerby combined to set up Jarvis for a shot from 20-yards but once again he cleared the crossbar.

Doherty did well to get in a header and concede a corner, the first of the match, after 36 minutes after Otsemobor had deflected a cross from Spurr dangerously close to his own goal.

In fact, Wednesday won three corners in quick succession, the best of which was the third with Kavanagh's flag kick met by a glancing header from Watson.

Huckerby earned a free-kick midway into the Wednesday half when he was fouled by Wood as the two men challenged for a Drury through ball. Lappin's free-kick was headed back by Doherty for Huckerby to try a right foot shot, which was blocked by Johnson, bringing muted appeals for handball.

Spillane needed treatment for a bang on the nose three minutes before the interval after jumping for a header with Small. There was clearly blood on his face and he looked a little dazed as physio Neal Reynolds attended to him on the touchline, while City continued with 10 men.

Drury was having an excellent half and got back to deny Whelan when Wednesday carved out space on the right side of the Norwich area.

Marshall gathered an overhead kick from Watson as Wednesday tried to make use of their one man advantage, but Spillane was soon back in the action, wearing number 49.

In the two minutes of time added on Otsemobor was fouled by Small giving the Canaries a free-kick just into the Wednesday half but the ball was fed wide to Huckerby and his cross was easily headed clear, the last action of the half as referee Russell pointed to the dressing rooms.

Half-time: Norwich City 0, Sheffield Wednesday 0.

Wednesday were first to threaten after the break when Kavanagh let fly from outside the box, but Marshall was able to watch as his shot bounced well wide.

Three minutes into the half, a neat exchange of passes took Watson within shooting range of the City goal and Marshall had to make a smart save from the Wednesday captain, who seemed to pull a muscle just as he shot.

Watson was clearly in trouble as City broke forward, Brown setting up Cureton for a right foot shot which keeper Grant managed to beat away, with the striker firing the rebound into the crowd under pressure from Johnson.

City again worked an opening in the Wednesday area but this time Drury lashed a wild effort a long way off target.

With six minutes of the second half played, the Owls made a second change when Jermaine Johnson replaced the hobbling Watson.

Moments later Huckerby was in the wars after a challenge by Kavanagh.

Kavanagh was not afraid to shoot from distance but his next effort from just outside the box was poorly struck and rolled wide of the target.

Drury made another fine challenge on Simek to break down a Wednesday attack as the visitors continued their bright start to the second period.

Kavanagh, almost inevitably, had another pot shot from a distance but was once more off target as the Owls continued to press.

City won their first corner of the match and it had taken them 55 minutes but when it was played short and reached Huckerby, his cross was easily cut out.

Cureton was left hobbling on the left touchline by another challenge from Kavanagh which went unpunished.

With nearly an hour gone, the Canaries almost opened up the Wednesday defence when Brown's back heel from a Huckerby pass fell into the path of Spillane, but the youngster was adjudged to have tugged at Whelan's shirt and a free-kick was awarded.

Murray had produced a steady performance at the back and got in an important header at the expense of a corner. The flag kick was cleared as far as Small, who volleyed well over the top.

Manager Grant made his first change after 62 minutes when Croft replaced Spillane and the winger's first cross was very nearly a fruitful one with Michael Johnson just sticking a leg out to keep it away from the danger area.

Croft's pace was quickly apparent when he won a corner as he looked to cash in on a slick move involving Otsemobor and Cureton.

However, attack turned quickly to defence when Lappin's flag kick was headed clear by Kavanah and a mazy run by Jermaine Johnson was only halted at the last moment by a challenge from Murray.

There was a yellow card for Whelan when he stopped the next Norwich break with a blatant body check on Huckerby.

City were rather flatfooted when Wednesday broke through Jermaine Johnson, who played a one-two with Burton before firing in a powerful drive which was only just off target. The Owls had enjoyed slightly more of the attacking play since the interval, while City's final ball was too often wayward.

One swift counterattack from City almost paid dividends with 20 minutes to go when Croft sent Cureton away and his cross reached Huckerby, at full stretch six-yards out but his shot lacked power and Grant was right behind it.

The home crowd were becoming a little frustrated and Otsemobor highlighted City's problem in the final third of the field with a cross which went straight out of play behind the goal.

Drury was playing a blinder for Norwich and made a vital block from Whelan after the midfielder played a one-two and let fly with a venomous shot.

Tudgay slashed a powerful shot just wide as Wednesday continued to look the more dangerous side and with 73 minutes gone, City tried to lift their attacking spark when Strihavka replaced Brown.

The goal Wednesday had been threatening came after 75 minutes, however, with the home defence caught extremely flatfooted. Simek was given far too much room on the right side of the Wednesday

attack and his low cross was allowed to reach Small at the far post, and he side-footed a close range shot through Marshall's legs.

The home crowd responded with chants of “What a load of rubbish” and “Are you watching, Delia?”

The Owls response, once the celebrations had died down, was to make their final change with Hinds replacing Spurr.

As City tried to respond, Jarvis and Otsemobor combined to create a shooting chance for Cureton but he flashed a right foot shot wide.

The home crowd began to try to rouse their team with more positive chants of “On the ball City” and “City 'til I die” but their team were looking rather bedraggled.

Time was running out for the Canaries as some fans began heading for the exits and although Jarvis attempted a teasing ball into the Wednesday area it was comfortably gathered by Grant.

With two minutes left Otsemobor played a neat one-two with Croft but the fullback's cross was met by the flailing arms of Cureton at the near post and the striker was booked for deliberate hand ball.

Result: Norwich City 0, Sheffield Wednesday 1.

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