Norwich City 1, Sheffield Utd 0

DAVID CUFFLEY Teenage striker Ched Evans proved the match winner once again as Norwich City continued their climb up the Championship table by beating Sheffield United in a dramatic encounter at Carrow Road.


Teenage striker Ched Evans proved the match winner once again as Norwich City continued their climb up the Championship table by beating Sheffield United in a dramatic encounter at Carrow Road.

Evans struck after nine minutes when a cross from Darren Huckerby dropped into his path six-yards out.

The Canaries came under the hammer in the second half and endured several close scrapes before Matthew Kilgallon appeared to have equalised a minute from time with a header, but the goal was disallowed leading to a late flurry of yellow cards.

City boss Roeder was forced into two changes to his starting 11 after the 2-1 victory over Plymouth on Tuesday night.

Midfielder Darel Russell and defender Gary Doherty were both serving one match suspensions, so there was a recall for Jason Shackell and Jimmy Smith.

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Shackell returned to the centre of defence alongside Martin Taylor, playing the last match of his loan spell from Birmingham. But he did not regain the captaincy with Mark Fotheringham keeping the armband and presumably the job for the rest of the season.

Smith was making only his fifth appearance and only his third start since arriving on loan from Chelsea in the summer. Striker Ched Evans, just 18, retained his place in attack after scoring in only the third minute on his full debut against Plymouth.

Michael Spillane and Chris Martin were both on the bench, their first involvement with the first team since the defeat at Plymouth four weeks ago.

The other outfield substitutes were Lee Croft and Dion Dublin.

Sheffield United boss Bryan Robson retained the side beaten 3-0 at home by Stoke on Tuesday night. They had a formidable looking line-up on the bench, including striker Billy Sharp, who had talks with Norwich in the summer, and former City loan defender Leigh Bromby .

Before kick off, Taylor was presented with the player of the month award for November.

City kicked off in wind and rain attacking the Barclay goal, with Huckerby taking up his customary position on the left and Smith operating on the right.

United won the first free-kick when Cureton fouled Bardsley. Cahill aimed it long towards the Norwich area but it was cut out by Shackell.

Camara and Cureton put together a neat move on the left as Norwich pushed forward and Montgomery had to be alert to clear the danger, but City were soon on the attack again as Huckerby weaved his way deep into the area and almost opened the scoring with a low shot which Kenny blocked with his legs at the expense of a corner, the first of the match. Fortheringham's flag kick was aimed towards the near post but the visitors were able to clear their lines.

Huckerby had made a very lively start and after taking a pass from Camara he curled a dangerous cross just beyond the far post.

The Canaries got just the start they were looking for after nine minutes when teenager Evans scored for the second time in successive games but Huckerby was the architect with a cross from the left which Bardsley tried to cut out but only succeeded in looping the ball high in the air and when it came down about six-yards out, Evans cleverly hooked it into the roof of the net.

Referee Deadman produced the yellow card for the first time soon afterwards when City skipper Fotheringham fouled Carney on the halfway line.

United forced a couple of corners in quick succession as they tried to get back on terms, but Camara made the clearance from the first of them and a minute later, the second was an easy catch for Marshall.

Cureton tried to find Evans with a long ball from deep in his own half as City pushed forward again and goalkeeper Kenny had to race out and clear into touch to stop the young striker taking advantage.

Beattie had been fairly quiet in the opening 20 minutes but he had one opportunity when he for once got the better of Shackell after a goal kick from Kenny was flicked on into his path, but the former Everton man fired across the face of the goal.

Back came Norwich and an awkward cross by Camara forced Naysmith to concede a corner but Pattison's kick failed to get as far as the near post and the opportunity was squandered.

With just over a quarter of the match gone, conditions were becoming increasingly difficult with a gusting wind and heavy rain appearing to set in for the afternoon. Marshall did well to keep his feet in clearing from one back pass and it was becoming increasingly tricky for both sides.

After 27 minutes, there was a rare opening for Cureton when Taylor picked him out with a through ball from midway into the Norwich half but although the striker got ahead of the last defender his attempted lob was too strong, clearing both Kenny and the crossbar.

Cureton was then just unable to control a cross from Fotheringham when he tried to chest it down close to the penalty spot, but the ball ran away from him.

The Canaries produced an excellent move after 34 minutes when Fotheringham managed to find the overlapping Camara and, running at full speed, he managed to get in a cross towards the far post where Cureton jumped well and glanced a header only just wide.

City were enjoying a good spell and kept the Blades pegged in their own half for a long period, forcing corners on both flanks, but despite all the pressure they were so far unable to add to their early lead.

Cureton was in some discomfort after appearing to take a knock on the ankle, making a challenge on the halfway line right in front of the Norwich dugout. Physio Reynolds made a quick inspection of the damage before the striker was allowed to return to the action.

Three minutes before the break, the visitors won a corner on the left but Gillespie's in-swinging kick was an easy catch again for Marshall.

Cureton was working his socks off against much bigger defenders to try to get Norwich going and one excellent cross from the right was only just out of reach of Evans. Then Otsemobor delivered a teasing centre which Kenny gathered under the bar.

In first half stoppage time, United won their fourth corner but Carney's kick towards the near post was volleyed away by Smith.

Half-time: Norwich City 1, Sheffield United 0

United began the second half with an attacking burst and when Shackell headed clear from a cross by Carney, Gillespie let fly with a powerful drive, but it was wide of Marshall's left hand post.

The Blades attacked again down the left but a poor centre from Naysmith went straight out of play when he should have done better.

Otsemobor got the crowd going with a surging run which took him from inside his own half into the United penalty area but when he finally slipped a pass to Evans, the young striker was slightly off balance and was unable to make room for a shot.

Nine minutes into the half, Sheffield produced their first shot on target and it required an excellent save from Marshall to deny them an equaliser. A cross from the right was played back into the path of Carney and he let fly with a powerful shot which Marshall dived low to his right to keep out.

Two minutes later Norwich almost extended their lead when Huckerby weaved his way through the United defence and was foiled only by a brave save from Kenny when a goal looked on the cards.

Cureton and Cahill were enjoying a real battle and one tussle on the touchline ended with the striker upending the much taller defender. There was a brief altercation between the two players before the referee stepped in to calm things down.

Pattison showed excellent skill on the right before sending in a cross to the far post, which Beattie was back to clear under pressure at the expense of a corner. The kick itself was cleared as far as Pattison and he tested Kenny with a powerful left foot shot from the edge of the area which the keeper did well to hold.

City made their first change when Croft was sent on in place of Smith and he was soon into the action with a cross from the right towards Evans, who did not quite make a clean connection and his miscued volley was no trouble for Kenny.

Norwich won a free-kick just outside the United area and Pattison took it left footed but Kenny was right behind his curling shot.

Midway through the half, United made their first change when Sharp replaced Armstrong.

Twice United threatened to get on terms as they pushed forward with more purpose. First Bardsley shot across the face of the goal from a Carney centre and then Sharp flashed a right foot shot wide, his first contribution.

Suddenly it was all United, Marshall having to save from a low drive from Tonge and then Sharp protesting that he should have had a penalty when he was challenged by Otsemobor but the referee was unimpressed.

Roeder made his second change on 72 minutes when goal scorer Evans was replaced by the veteran Dublin.

Pattison became the next man to go into the referee's book when he delayed too long in taking a free-kick and was shown the yellow card for time wasting.

Substitute Sharp glanced a header wide from a cross from Bardsley and was greeted with the chant “What a waste of money” from the home crowd.

Huckerby conceded a corner with some poor control on the touchline but Dublin came to the rescue when he headed clear from Gillespie's flag kick.

Another corner for United was cleared only as far as Gillespie but when he shot through a crowd of players, Marshall was right behind his effort.

United continued to press for an equaliser and Beattie headed narrowly over the top from a cross from Bardsley.

Sharp was certainly seeing plenty of the ball and was not too far off target with an overhead kick from another Bardsley centre.

There was almost a moment of panic in the home defence when Marshall made his first error by dropping a cross but there was enough cover for City to snuff out the danger.

With three minutes left, United made another change when Hendrie replaced Carney.

Norwich were really under the cosh in the closing minutes and both Dublin and Otsemobor made vital clearances with headers.

There was real drama with a minute left when United appeared to have equalised, only for the goal to be disallowed. A cross from the right was headed in by Kilgallon but with the visitors beginning to celebrate, the assistant referee had his flag up for offside.

Amid all the protests, there was a booking for Cahill.

Huckerby rounded the keeper and shot into the side netting in a dramatic finale.

After the final whistle, there were further bookings for Montgomery and Sharp

Result: Norwich City 1, Sheffield United.

MoM: Taylor

Attendance: 24,493

Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Taylor, Camara, Huckerby, Fotheringham, Smith, Pattison, Cureton, Evans. Subs: Arnold, Croft, Dublin, Spillane, Martin.

Sheff Utd: Kenny, Bardsley, Kilgallon, Cahill, Naysmith, Carney, Montgomery, Tonge, Gillespie, Armstrong, Beattie. Subs: Gerrard, Bromby, Stead, Hendrie, Sharp.

Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)