Norwich City 2 Barnsley 0
PUBLISHED: 16:54 18 March 2017 | UPDATED: 21:53 18 March 2017
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Norwich City ground out a 2-0 Championship win against Barnsley to keep alive their faint play-off hopes at Carrow Road.
The Reds’ were unable to find the killer punch to punish City in open play, with Jacob Murphy scoring prior to the interval and then unleashing a shot Angus MacDonald turned past his own keeper Adam Davies after the Reds’ stopper had parried the initial strike.
Alan Irvine made one unenforced change from last week’s line up against Blackburn. Jacob Murphy replaced his brother with Steven Whittaker coming in for the suspended Mitchell Dijks. City’s substitutes’ bench included fit-again trio Timm Klose, Graham Dorrans and Nelson Oliveira.
Alex Pritchard made his presence felt in the second minute with a dipping free kick headed behind by the Reds’ defence.
Jacob Murphy then got in behind down the right but Davies grabbed his low cross with Cameron Jerome lurking at the back post. Jonny Howson’s dipping volley cleared the bar in the 15th minute following a surge from Ivo Pinto. The attacking midfielder then controlled Ryan Bennett’s threaded pass but his long range strike lacked the venom to worry Davies.
Pritchard’s instinctive curling effort had Davies beaten but veered wide of the far post in the 22nd minute after the ball ricocheted into his path following Jerome’s block.
City suffered an injury blow on the half-hour mark when the limping Wes Hoolahan departed for Naismith.
Tom Bradshaw was left unmarked but headed Adam Hammill’s deep free kick over with the Reds looking a threat on the counter.
Howson’s sublime cross evaded Jerome at the near post in a rare moment of attacking intent from the hosts, but City did slice through in the final minute of the opening period. Jerome made a rare burst in behind to control the ball and pick out Jacob Murphy, who veered around his marker to unleash a low, angled shot past Davies from 16 yards.
McGovern brilliantly denied Hammill seconds after the restart with a one-handed parry to claw out his close-range back heel following Andy Yiadom’s initial burst.
Hammill then hammered a volley deflected behind by Martin as the Reds continued to press. The captain was less decisive in dealing with a ball slid down the side for Marley Watkins with a miscued clearance the Barnsley midfielder failed to punish.
Pritchard’s vision and weight of pass freed Naismith but his rising shot failed to test Davies but the visitors were hit with a sucker punch when the luckless Davies’ stop from Jacob Murphy rebounded against MacDonald and sailed over the line. Davies had denied Naismith seconds earlier but had no chance with the unfortunate deflection against the towering central defender.
Jerome was foiled by Davies when he burst onto Jacob Murphy’s pass as Barnsley committed more men forward to set up a tense finale.
Irvine made a double change in the 84th minute with Oliveira and Dorrans replacing Jerome and Jacob Murphy respectively.
MacDonald’s goal-saving headed clearance thwarted Howson who cleverly chipped over the on-rushing Davies. The lively Ryan Kent screwed his shot wide seven yards out in stoppage time to underline the Reds’ lack of a killer instinct.
• Norwich: McGovern, Pinto, Bennett, Martin, Whittaker, Tettey, Howson, Jacob Murphy (Dorrans 84), Pritchard, Hoolahan (Naismith 30), Jerome (Oliveira 84). Subs: (not used): Ruddy (GK), Klose, Wildschut, Josh Murphy.
• Booking: Pinto (foul on Kent, 61)
• Goals: Jacob Murphy (44), MacDonald og (71)
• Barnsley: Davies, Roberts, MacDonald, Scowen, Hammill (Hedges 81), Watkins (Mowatt 78), Yiadom, Bradshaw, Jones, Armstrong (Kent 56), James. Subs (not used): Townsend, Moncur, Jackson, Janko.
• Time added on: 1 minute / 3 minutes
• Referee: Darren Bond (Lancs)
• Attendance: 26,105