Norwich City 1, Stoke 0

Darren Huckerby proved Norwich City’s match winner again when his 12th goal of the season was enough to sink Stoke at Carrow Road. Huckerby, who had scored the winner in spectacular style against Birmingham five days earlier, struck again after half an hour when he beat keeper Steve Simonsen with a powerful drive after playing a one two with Chris Martin.

Darren Huckerby proved Norwich City's match winner again when his 12th goal of the season was enough to sink Stoke at Carrow Road this afternoon.

Huckerby, who had scored the winner in spectacular style against Birmingham five days earlier, struck again after half an hour when he beat keeper Steve Simonsen with a powerful drive after playing a one two with Chris Martin.

Defender Jason Shackell came close to stretching Norwich's lead before the break when his header thumped against the post and his follow up effort was blocked on the line by Simonsen.

Stoke showed more urgency in the second half but seldom looked likely to boost their slender play-off hopes and the main flashpoint after the break was a straight red card for defender Andy Griffin for a foul on Youssef Safri in the closing minutes.

City lost skipper Adam Drury with what looked like an ankle injury midway through the first half and Huckerby took the armband before delivering another moment of magic.

City boss Peter Grant had the luxury of being able to name an unchanged side against Stoke after Tuesday's 1-0 win over leaders Birmingham.

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He also decided on the same five substitutes as in the midweek game, so Luke Chadwick, who made his home debut against the Blues as a late replacement for Lee Croft, had to be content with a place on the bench again.

Stoke, still in with a chance of a play-off place after taking four points from the last two games, were boosted when defender Gabriel Zakuani was passed fit despite taking a knock in the 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Tuesday.

The Potters, who won 5-0 against the Canaries at the Britannia Stadium in October, included ex-City midfielder Darel Russell in their line-up.

Before kick-off, a cheque for more than £7500 was presented to the Norfolk branch of the Royal British Legion after City shirts adorned with the poppy emblem were auctioned on-line.

Stoke kicked off defending the Barclay goal and Russell and Parkin combined to set up Lawrence in the very first minute, the winger volleying over the top with a well struck effort.

With just two minutes gone the Canaries won their first corner. Lappin's kick was knocked clear to Safri, whose low drive was heading off target before it was stopped by Martin, but the young striker was crowded out and Stoke were able to clear.

Huckerby showed flashes of the skill that brought him a goal against Birmingham on Tuesday as he weaved his way into the Stoke area, but his final ball did not match his approach play and Russell was able to shield it back to Simonsen.

Norwich carved out the best opening so far after seven minutes when Lappin found Huckerby on the left and he delivered what looked like the perfect cross for Martin, only for the youngster to send his glancing header wide of Simonsen's left hand post.

There was then a delay as skipper Drury, certainly in the wars in recent weeks, received treatment for a bang in the face.

As Stoke, wearing white shirts as opposed to their traditional red and white stripes, pushed forward again, Shackell earned applause for a neat tidying up operation under pressure from Parkin.

An excellent cross field ball from Etuhu landed at the feet of Croft close to the right corner flag and it took a solid header from Higginbotham to get the winger's centre out of the danger zone.

It had been a reasonably bright start by City in bright sunshine, in front of another bumper crowd at Carrow Road.

Hughes was caught in possession by the heavyweight Parkin as Stoke went back on the attack and Parkin tried a fairly ambitious lob which Warner had to be alert to gather on the bounce.

After 16 minutes, Safri found Huckerby with a pinpoint pass and the live wire City forward cut inside on to his right foot before testing Simonsen with a low drive.

City won a free-kick on the left edge of the Stoke area when Diao fouled Huckerby. Safri and Lappin stood over the ball but it was the Moroccan who took the kick and he curled a right foot shot well over the top.

Hoefkens tried to mount a one man raid on Norwich territory as he sprinted down the right but lost control, leaving Lappin to tidy up.

Drury was off the field again receiving attention from physio Reynolds, this time it appeared to his right ankle.

City were continuing with 10 men and the visitors looked to take advantage but Lawrence was adjudged to have handled in a tussle with Hughes inside the home penalty area.

After two or three minutes, Drury returned to the action but handed the captain's armband to Huckerby, while Lappin dropped into the left back role and Fotheringham stripped off on the touchline.

Sure enough, midway through the half, Drury departed to be replaced by Fotheringham, who took up the left sided midfield role with Lappin behind him at full back.

The visitors won a free-kick on the edge of the Norwich area after a foul by Croft, but Lawrence wasted it by curling the ball straight into Warner's hands.

The first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to Zakuani after 25 minutes when he chopped down Huckerby halfway into the City half.

Norwich were rather becalmed at this stage and Doherty tried the long ball option when he aimed a clearance towards Martin, but the youngster was muscled out of the challenge by Higginbotham.

City went down to 10 men again when Doherty signalled to the referee that he had blood on his shirt, and walked to the halfway line to receive attention to his nose.

But while they were a man short, the Canaries took the lead as Huckerby's golden goal scoring run continued. Huckerby took possession wide on the left and picked out Martin, whose deft back heel nudged the ball back into Huckerby's path and he beat Simonsen with a low right foot drive for his 12th goal of the season.

Doherty returned to the action with a white dressing on his nose and City pressed forward again, Hughes letting fly with a fairly ambitious right foot shot into the crowd.

Croft showed determination in winning a challenge with Griffin and heading for the Stoke penalty area but his right foot shot across the face of the goal was well off target.

The Canaries were within an inch of stretching their lead after 37 minutes after Huckerby won a corner on the left. Lappin played it short to Safri and his cross was met with a thumping header from Shackell which struck the post and bounced back to the City defender, whose follow up shot was blocked on the line by the grateful Simonsen and almost appeared to have crept in, but there were no complaints from the City players.

With less than five minutes to go to the break, the Canaries had two penalty shouts turned down in quick succession, first when Zakuani stumbled and appeared to land on the ball with his hand following a cross by Croft, then when Croft thought he had been shoved over by Griffin as he tried to get his head to a Huckerby cross.

There was a ragged look about some of Stoke's defending as City seemed to have gained fresh momentum from Huckerby's goal.

The visitors has not looked very much like play-off contenders in the opening half and Norwich were well worth their interval lead.

t Half-time: Norwich City 1, Stoke City 0

The half-time interval featured a parade by City's long distance fans, representing different groups at home and abroad, and the procession continued when Stoke made two changes at the start of the second half, with Lee Martin replacing Zakuani and Fuller on for Parkin.

City quickly won a corner, Lappin's in-swinging effort being cleared by Simonsen at full stretch and when Huckerby returned the loose ball into the area, the keeper was in the right place at his near post to collect.

Three minutes into the half, the visitors won their first corner of the match when Hughes was forced to concede under pressure; Lawrence's kick was an easy catch for Warner.

Norwich had another opportunity as they counterattacked with Hughes delivering an excellent cross towards Fotheringham at the far post but the ball seemed to strike the midfielder's standing leg and trickled wide.

Stoke made their final change just six minutes into the half when Eustace replaced Diao. They were soon on the attack as Fuller worked a one two with Russell and delivered a right foot drive which Warner, falling to his right, grabbed with both hands.

There seemed to be more urgency about Stoke's play and Shackell did well to head clear from Sidibe's cross before a long throw into the six-yard box caused further problems, relieved only when Safri hammered the loose ball away.

Lawrence then weaved his way into a shooting position but his tame effort did not trouble Warner.

Another long throw by Hoefkens created problems and Etuhu had to head clear at the expense of a corner. Lawrence's flag kick was cleared as far as Lappin and suddenly City had an opening as the midfielder found Huckerby, but his first time effort was straight as Simonsen.

Back came Stoke and Doherty did well to cut out a low centre from Lawrence, before Russell hooked a useful shooting chance wide.

With half an hour to go, City had not quite got to grips with things since the break and there were one or two nervous moments at the back as Stoke stepped things up a gear.

Dublin and McVeigh had begun limbering up, along with Chadwick, as Grant considered whether to make further changes.

Russell robbed Croft as Stoke pressed again but Griffin's long diagonal ball was too strong for Lawrence.

A cross field ball from Hughes was helped into the Stoke area by Fotheringham as the Canaries broke, but Eustace was well placed to head back to Simonsen.

City then tried to catch the visitors napping with a quickly take free-kick as Huckerby found Croft, but Fotheringham was unable to make telling contact with the winger's cross.

There was briefly a moment of alarm for Norwich when Eustace played a lob into the path of Lee Martin, but the substitute was adjudged to have fouled Doherty in getting the better of the centre half.

Safri was treated for a bang in the face from Eustace, prompting a further delay, but it was Stoke who went forward from the restart and Lappin had to concede another corner as Lawrence moved onto a through ball from Hoefkens. Lawrence's corner was, however, another awful one and Warner gathered it very easily.

A neat passing move involving Safri, Huckerby and Croft promised good things for Norwich, but Safri's centre was just cleared as Fotheringham closed in at the far post.

It was Stoke's turn to try to catch City unawares with a quick free-kick only for Fuller to waste the opportunity by curling his shot wide.

With 73 minutes gone, Etuhu brought a roar from the crowd when he moved onto Safri's pass and tried his luck from 25-yards, his right foot shot thudding into the boards to the right of Simonsen's goal.

With a quarter of an hour to go, Grant made his second change when Chadwick replaced Croft.

Sidibe brought Warner into action again with a left foot drive from outside the box after he latched onto a clearance from Doherty and play was then held up while Fuller received treatment for a knock.

Dublin was introduced in place of Chris Martin with 10 minutes left as the Canaries made their final change of the afternoon.

Stoke threatened again with a free-kick from Lawrence and it was Shackell who had to head clear at the far post at the expense of a corner. Lawrence's flag kick was headed away by Dublin and Lee Martin fired it straight back on the volley with some power, but over the top.

There was a real flashpoint with seven minutes left when Stoke's Griffin was shown the red card for a lunge at Safri right in front of the visitors' dugout. Griffin was angry at the decision and had to be restrained by Hughes before departing the scene.

Safri required treatment and before play restarted, Stoke's Lee Martin was shown the yellow card for dissent.

An error by Hughes set Stoke on the attack in the final minute, but as they got forward in numbers, Fuller squandered the opening with an awful ball straight into the crowd.

Four additional minutes were signalled by the fourth official - four minutes for City to try to hang on to their second home win in five days.

In time added on, Chadwick weaved through before testing Simonsen with a low drive.

Result: Norwich City 1, Stoke City 0.

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