Norwich City 1, Bristol City 3
DAVID CUFFLEY Managerless Norwich City plunged deeper into trouble at the wrong end of the Championship table when they crashed to their third home defeat of the season at Carrow Road. Despite scoring their first goal in seven matches, acting boss Jim Duffy’s Canaries suffered another desperate reverse on home soil at the hands of Bristol City.
Managerless Norwich City plunged deeper into trouble at the wrong end of the Championship table when they crashed to their third home defeat of the season at Carrow Road.
Despite scoring their first goal in seven matches, acting boss Jim Duffy's Canaries suffered another desperate reverse on home soil at the hands of Bristol City.
The Robins hadn't even taken a point at Norwich for 35 years, but they took the lead after 47 minutes when Michael McIndoe headed home from a cross by Ivan Sproule.
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City equalised nine minutes from time with their first goal in 636 minutes as Darren Huckerby struck his first goal of the season.
But two substitutes gave the visitors victory with Scott Murray restoring the lead after 85 minutes with a long range effort which flew in off both posts.
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Lee Trundle wrapped up the victory with a fine solo effort in stoppage time.
City had started brightly in their first match after the departure of former manager Peter Grant, but on-loan signing John Hartson and Adam Drury both missed early chances.
Jim Duffy, in charge for the first time, made three changes to the starting line-up from the side beaten 1-0 by Queen's Park Rangers 12 days earlier.
Dion Dublin was ruled out by the back injury that forced him off at half time at Loftus Road, so Ian Murray, who conceded a second half penalty when he replaced Dublin, continues to deputise.
Winger Lee Croft and striker Chris Martin were the other two left out from the Rangers game, with City fielding a new strike pair in the shape of John Hartson, making his debut on loan from West Bromwich Albion, and David Strihavka the last City player to score in the 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace, that goal coming 555 minutes ago.
Jamie Cureton was back sooner than expected after an ankle injury when he was named among the substitutes.
Fourth place Bristol City named an unchanged side from the 2-0 win over Sheffield United in their last match.
Before kick-off, goalkeeper David Marshall was presented with the player of the month award for September.
The visitors kicked off in bright sunshine and quickly had Marshall in action when he gathered a cross at the near post from McIndoe.
It was clear that City had begun with Huckerby operating wide on the right and Lappin on the left with Russell and Rossi Jarvis in the central midfield positions.
Russell was quickly involved with a cross from the left which Bristol skipper Carey headed clear and he was involved again in almost providing Hartson with a dream start to his City career, with less than three minutes gone. Russell and Huckerby combined to work the ball into the area where Hartson struck a first time right foot shot, which was brilliantly kept out by keeper Basso, diving to his left.
It was a very lively start by the new signing, who tested Basso again with a low drive from outside the box which the keeper saved before he flashed a header wide from a Lappin corner, a great chance to open his account.
There was another golden opportunity for Norwich to take the lead after seven minutes and again Hartson was involved, chesting down a Lappin cross perfectly into the path of Drury, only for the fullback to lift his left foot shot over the bar.
The visitors won their first corner after eight minutes and it was played back towards Orr, but he wasted his opportunity with a poor left foot shot which was well off target.
The Canaries were looking a very different proposition from their last match in London and there was a buzz among the home crowd which had been lacking in their last two disappointing home games.
Hartson almost sent Strihavka away as City went back on the attack, but the big Czech had just strayed offside.
A cross from McAllister had Marshall scrambling across his line to scoop it clear moments later, so there was certainly a threat from the visitors, keen to build on their impressive start to the season.
Shackell did well to break up a neat passing move on the edge of his own area, although it appeared the skipper may have been struggling a little, clutching his thigh in the early stages.
Shackell dealt with another Bristol threat when he turned his back on a fierce shot by Noble to block it on the edge of the area.
The Canaries had won no fewer than five corners in the first quarter of an hour but had still not managed to produce that elusive goal. Russell did his best to provide it after18 minutes with a left foot shot on the turn from just outside the box, but Basso was equal to it, saving low to his right.
Russell was prominent in the opening 20 minutes but spoiled one fine interception just into the Bristol half with a poor ball beyond the reach of Hartson.
Fontaine seemed a little fortunate to escape with a shove on Strihavka when he challenged for a cross from the right, and Strihavka was not too far away from a Lappin centre before Fontaine guided it back to the keeper.
Midway through the half, Drury was clearly in some distress after a challenge by Sproule on the halfway line and while he received attention from physio Reynolds, both sides took the opportunity for a welcome drink. At the same time, the Bristol physio was on the pitch applying bandages to the head of skipper Carey, presumably because of a cut.
During the break, the injured Dublin was on his feet in front of the dugout, giving out plenty of advice to his teammates.
As play resumed, Drury was soon in trouble again and had to hobble off down the tunnel, leaving City with 10 men. Nevertheless, they won another corner when McAllister did well to head clear from a teasing cross by Lappin and, with Spillane stripping off ready to come on, McAllister rather nervously conceded another flag kick when his attempted back pass to Basso ran over the line.
The corner, by Jarvis, struck defender Fontaine on the back of the head as he jumped with Strihavka but fell kindly for a grateful Basso to collect.
Not surprisingly, Norwich were forced into a change after 28 minutes when Spillane replaced Drury. The youngster went into the centre of defence alongside Shackell with Murray moving to left back. As the visitors pushed forward, Noble rather wasted another opening with a shot from 20-yards which was way off target.
Basso came racing from his line as City hit back to prevent Huckerby getting on the end of a diagonal pass from the busy Lappin.
City attempted a quick break when Marshall's throw reached Huckerby, who in turn fed Otsemobor wide on the right, but the fullback's cross was cut out by Fontaine just as Strihavka waited to pounce.
The Canaries had lost their early momentum as the Robins began to look more confident but in their case, the final ball was often poor and Marshall had not been seriously troubled.
With seven minutes to go to the break, Carey fouled Strihavka to give City a free-kick 15-yards into their opponents half. Lappin swung his cross towards Hartson, but the big striker was unable to get clean contact and his header glanced wide.
Noble's shooting was simply awful and he fired another effort yards off target from outside the box.
Russell's persistence almost paid dividends when he moved on to a Lappin pass and battled his way into the Bristol area, only to be crowded out at the expense of a corner. Lappin's kick reached Hartson but he produced a poor header this time and it drifted well wide.
Three minutes before the break, Noble at last produced a shot on target, struck with some power from long range, but Marshall, standing upright was right behind it.
As the interval approached, referee Bates gave Russell and Johnson a brief word after a slight altercation on the halfway line.
There was an odd decision in first half stoppage time when Elliott clearly handled when he jumped with Hartson for a header but the official decided Hartson had impeded him and the free-kick went Bristol's way.
As the half-time whistle sounded, it was now 10 hours since the Canaries had last scored a goal.
Half-time: Norwich City 0, Bristol City 0
Within a minute of the restart, referee Bates was showing the yellow card for the first time, to McAllister for a clumsy challenge on Huckerby on the halfway line. Otsemobor's free-kick reached the head of Hartson but his header fell harmlessly wide.
There was a major setback for the Canaries two minutes into the half, when McIndoe headed the visitors into the lead. Sproule showed some persistence to get the better of Murray and his cross was met by a firm header from McIndoe, which Marshall got his left hand to, but was unable to keep out.
Marshall appeared to be troubled by the sun in his eyes as he stood in the Barclay goalmouth, but whether that was a contributory factor to the goal was hard to say, but he was not wearing a cap.
After 53 minutes, the visitors were dangerously close to scoring a second when Noble was only just wide with a shot from Byfield's pass. The lively Sproule then rattled another effort into the side netting as they pressed again.
The Robins seemed to gaining in confidence and even defender Carey got forward to try his luck with a shot from outside the box, which was only just wide.
Norwich had struggled to make any impact since the interval and Lappin produced a fairly desperate effort when Huckerby crossed beyond the far post and the midfielder, slightly off balance, fired high into the crowd.
Byfield headed over from an Elliott centre as Bristol continued to look more likely to add to their lead than did Norwich to equalise.
City won their ninth corner after 63 minutes, Hartson swinging his left boot at Lappin's kick, but his effort lacked power and Jarvis, latching on to the clearance, fired over the top.
There was a spell of a minute or so when Norwich simply could not get the ball and the visitors moved it around sweetly before Sproule set up Elliott for a left foot shot, but it was straight at Marshall.
Midway through the half, there was a double change, with Croft sent on in place of Murray for City and Trundle replacing Byfield for their opponents. Lappin dropped to left back, with Huckerby switching to the left flank and Croft taking his position on the right.
There was a moment's alarm for the visitors when Strihavka might have done better in trying to get his head to a cross from Otsemobor, but City still won a corner, only for Shackell to head over the top from Lappin's kick.
Cureton and Martin were both limbering up on the touchline as Duffy considered whether to make his third and final change.
Hartson produced another shot on target after Russell nodded the ball back into the penalty area, but Basso was well placed to make the save.
Despite their lack of chances, City had won their fair share of corners and from the 11th, Hartson was only just off target with a header after the kick was played short to Lappin.
With 13 minutes left, Duffy made his final change with Martin replacing Hartson. The former Wales international received a good ovation from the home crowd because he had certainly tried hard on his debut and shown some good touches.
There were 10 minutes left when Robins' manager Johnson made another change, bringing on Murray for Sproule.
At long last, after 636 minutes of waiting, the Canaries finally managed to find the back of the net and it was Huckerby who equalised with his first goal of the season.
Fullback Orr dithered on the touchline and Huckerby got away from him, weaving his way into the area before producing a low right foot shot which Basso was, for once, unable to keep out.
The goal was greeted with a rendition of the hallelujah from the Barclay fans.
The home crowd were struck dumb, however, less than four minutes later when the visitors regained the lead through substitute Murray. A corner, only their second of the match, was cleared as far as Johnson, who played a short pass back to Murray, whose first time effort from at least 25-yards struck both posts before rolling into the net.
Bristol defender Fontaine was injured in the build up to the goal and was immediately replaced by McCombe.
Trundle wrapped up victory for the Robins when he scored with a fine solo effort into stoppage time at the end of the game.
Result: Norwich City 1, Bristol City 3
t Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Murray, Drury, Jarvis, Lappin, Russell, Huckerby, Hartson, Strihavka. Subs: Gilks, Croft, Cureton, Spillane, Martin.
t Bristol City: Basso, Orr, Fontaine, Carey, McAllister, McIndoe, Elliott, Johnson, Noble, Sproule, Byfield. Subs: Henderson, McCombe, Murray, Skuse, Trundle.
t Referee: Tony Bates (Staffordshire)
t Attendance: 24,125
t MoM: Daryl Russell