Norwich City 1, Middlesbrough 0

Simeon Jackson's fourth Championship goal of the season was enough to beat managerless Middlesbrough as Norwich City bounced back from their midweek home defeat by Crystal Palace.

Jackson struck shortly before half-time with a simple finish from close range after skipper Grant Holt had knocked back a cross from Anthony McNamee.

Midfielder Andrew Crofts had earlier been unlucky to see his shot rebound off the post into goalkeeper Jason Steele's hands, but it was generally an afternoon of few clear-cut chances.

Boro' had plenty of possession over the 90 minutes without creating enough chances against a City back four who were solid throughout – with centre-backs Leon Barnett and Elliott Ward especially outstanding.

The one golden opportunity that came their way was squandered, with substitute Scott McDonald firing wide from Nicky Bailey's cross in stoppage time.

City manager Paul Lambert made three changes to the starting line-up after the 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace – with Wes Hoolahan among the players relegated to the bench.

Ward returned from a one-match ban to replace Jens Berthel Askou in the back four. David Fox was preferred to Korey Smith in midfield, starting a league match for only the second time this season. And McNamee was brought in at the expense of Hoolahan.

Most Read

Boro' caretaker manager Steve Agnew welcomed back Scotland international Kevin Thomson after he was sidelined with a hairline fracture of his fibula, while two former Norwich loan signings were included in the eleven – defender Matthew Bates and striker Leroy Lita.

City lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with McNamee on the right, Lappin on the left and Crofts and Fox occupying central midfield.

Both sides forced early corners and, with eight minutes gone, McNamee's kick caused a few problems for Boro' with Wheater's clearance dropping to Ward, who fired over the top – although referee Linington had blown for an infringement.

Holt needed treatment for a bang in the face he suffered while Boro' were busy taking a corner.

A foul by Barnett on Boyd gave the visitors a free-kick on the corner of the penalty area and skipper O'Neil curled in a dangerous right-foot shot that Ruddy grabbed just under the bar.

City had struggled to make any clear openings and when Holt let fly from 30 yards he was well off target.

Confusion on the part of Ruddy almost allowed Lita through after 18 minutes and it took a solid challenge by Russell Martin to stifle the danger at the expense of a corner, Wheater heading over from O'Neil's kick.

Russell Martin did well at the opposite end to rob O'Neil on the edge of the Boro' area and pick out Jackson with a low centre, but the striker skied his effort over the bar.

Jackson forced a corner with a cross that looped out off Wheater. The corner was cleared but Boro' had a lucky escape when the ball came back to McNamee and he crossed from the right where Crofts controlled well and struck a low shot that bounced back off the inside of the post into goalkeeper Steele's hands.

O'Neil was in the wars and needed treatment with play re-starting with a drop-ball on the halfway line from which City broke quickly and again went close. Steven Smith's cross from the left was volleyed back across goal by Martin and Jackson flicked it just past the post with his heel.

Ward blocked a powerful drive by Lita as Boro' broke promisingly through Williams.

Williams was again involved in a neat passing move that ended with Bailey striking a powerful drive narrowly wide.

Russell Martin found Crofts on halfway with a well-judged pass and the midfielder powered forward but spoiled his good work by blazing high over the bar.

Seven minutes before the break, Lita did well to squeeze a low centre across the face of the goal but Boyd was slow on the uptake and City escaped.

Another McNamee corner was cleared as far as Lappin, whose first-time shot into the area was blocked.

Five minutes before the break, with heavy rain now falling, Boro' made a change with Thomson hobbling off to be replaced by Smallwood.

With just over a minute left to the break, City moved ahead through Jackson's fourth goal of the season.

McNamee was the provider with a cross to the right, Holt doing well to slide in and turn it back into Jackson's path for the simplest of finishes, with Boro' waiting in vain for the offside flag.

A free-kick by Boyd was deflected wide for a corner in stoppage time, but Lappin was able to head clear.

• HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1, Middlesbrough 0

It was a subdued start to the second period with City given one opportunity from a free-kick when O'Neil fouled Holt, but Fox's kick eluded everyone.

A neat move inspired by Steven Smith led to another opening when Fox's powerful shot was deflected wide.

Boro' made a second change on the hour when McDonald replaced Boyd and joined Lita up front.

A foul by Ward on Bailey gave Boro' a free-kick five yards outside the area, but O'Neil fired his shot into the wall.

City broke well when Fox robbed Smallwood and sent Jackson away but as he looked to find Holt, Jackson was fouled by McManus, earning the first yellow card of the afternoon.

McMahon followed him into the book a minute later for a blatant foul on Lappin.

With 20 minutes to go, goalscorer Jackson was withdrawn to be replaced by Chris Martin.

A foul by Wheater on Holt gave City another free-kick five or six yards outside the penalty area, but after a long delay, Chris Martin drove it straight into the wall.

Bennett replaced McMahon as the visitors made their final change. They had threatened little in the second half but won a corner with 15 minutes left when Bailey's shot flew out off McNamee. O'Neil's kick was too strong, however, and cleared Wheater at the far post.

Substitute Bennett sent a long-range effort just wide as Boro' kept pressing.

Korey Smith was introduced for McNamee with 10 minutes remaining and rain once again swept across the ground.

The one golden opportunity that came Middlesbrough's way was squandered, with substitute McDonald firing wide from Bailey's cross in stoppage time.

• RESULT: Norwich City 1, Middlesbrough 0

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter