Norwich City 2, Leeds 1

DAVID CUFFLEY A vintage goal from Darren Huckerby against his old club clinched a vital victory for Norwich City at Carrow Road this afternoon.

DAVID CUFFLEY

Norwich 2, Leeds 1

A vintage goal from Darren Huckerby against his old club clinched a vital victory for Norwich City at Carrow Road this afternoon.

Bottom of the table Leeds led at the interval after 18-year-old Jonathan Howson scored his first goal for the club after tucking away a cross from Robbie Blake after 19 minutes.

But captain for the day Dion Dublin equalised after 58 minutes with a volley from around the penalty spot after a corner had been headed clear by Rui Marques.

Huckerby, who had a goal disallowed in the first half, delivered the killer blow after 77 minutes when he raced clear to beat keeper Neil Sullivan with a cool finish, rounding off a move involving new signing Mark Fotheringham and Lee Croft.

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In stoppage time, Huckerby twice went close to adding to his tally and Sullivan denied Dickson Etuhu with another smart save.

Fotheringham and fellow Scot Simon Lappin both played their part on their debuts in only the second win in 10 league games for the Canaries.

City boss Peter Grant gave debuts to his two deadline day signings, Scottish pair Mark Fotheringham and Simon Lappin. Lappin and Fotheringham were brought in for suspended skipper Adam Drury and midfielder Carl Robinson, who was released by the Canaries on Thursday to begin a new career in Canada with Toronto FC.

Veteran Dion Dublin recovered from an ankle injury he suffered at Blackpool in the FA Cup last week and returned to the defence in place of the injured Jason Shackell.

Chris Brown was recalled in attack in place of Peter Thorne, having served a one match ban, making it four changes from the team beaten 1-0 by Wolves at Carrow Road on Tuesday.

Thorne was one of three forwards on the bench, along with Paul McVeigh and 18-year-old Chris Martin, who made his senior debut as a substitute against Wolves.

Leeds, severely hit by injuries, were boosted by the availability of skipper Kevin Nicholls.

But their long list of absentees included striker David Healy, who suffered a broken arm in the 2-1 win at Hull in midweek, American Eddie Lewis, striker Tore-Andre Flo - out for two months with a fractured foot - and vice-captain Shaun Derry, sidelined by an Achilles injury.

Among the substitutes named by manager Dennis Wise were new goalkeeper Casper Ankergren, signed from Brondby in Denmark, and defender Hayden Foxe, back after a one match ban.

Dublin was named as City's captain for the day in the absence of Drury as they went in search of only their second win in 10 league games, and he called his team-mates together for a pre-match pep talk, not quite the conventional huddle, but it was Leeds who kicked off defending the Barclay goal.

Blake aimed an early cross into the City area but it was an easy catch for keeper Marshall.

With three minutes gone, Croft showed determination as he burst clear on the right, but his cross was just a bit too strong for Brown and for Huckerby, arriving at the far post.

It was a lively opening by Norwich and when Etuhu attempted to play a one-two with Fotheringham, Heath had to be alert to get their first and hammer the ball clear.

City produced their first serious attempt on goal after five minutes when Dublin picked out Colin with an excellent diagonal pass and the fullback advanced a few yards before firing a low right foot shot just past Sullivan's right hand post.

City the won a free-kick wide on the right when Sa fouled Croft. Lappin took the kick left footed and Dublin was just inches away from getting in a header at the far post. Another promising move was halted by the offside flag when Etuhu strayed just a yard too far forward.

There were premature celebrations from the home crowd after nine minutes when, just for a moment, it appeared Huckerby had opened the scoring. Dublin played the ball forward and a helpful deflection fell for Brown, who slipped the ball to his left for the overlapping Huckerby to poke it right footed past Sullivan from a tight angle, but his effort was disallowed for offside.

Brown's determination won Norwich their first corner after 12 minutes and although Safri's kick was far too strong, the big striker retrieved the ball and managed to force a second corner on the opposite side. Lappin took this one left footed but again Leeds were able to clear their lines.

It was all Norwich at this stage and Huckerby and Fotheringham combined to set up a shooting chance for Croft, only for the winger to fire high over the top.

Lappin, playing at left back, had made a very positive start and twice Leeds had to resort to fouls to check his progress.

Leeds had given Marshall very little to do but after 18 minutes a through ball by Thompson caused problems as Kandol shrugged off the attentions of Doherty and flashed a left foot drive past the post.

Kandol's effort should have served as a warning to the Canaries because one minute later he played a part in giving the visitors the lead.

Goalkeeper Sullivan took a free-kick, awarded for offside, and Kandol nodded it down into the path of Blake, who pulled it back into the six-yard area for Howson to side foot a simple chance past Marshall.

The 18-year-old's goal was certainly against the run of play but it left the struggling Canaries with a familiar uphill battle on home territory.

As City pressed for an equaliser, Lappin and Huckerby combined to put Brown through and after rounding the keeper, he fired left footed against the outside of the post when he might have done better, but once again the offside flag made it all academic.

Norwich were not making the best use of their dead ball opportunities and a free-kick from Safri was easily headed away by Douglas. There was another promising break when Fotheringham found Croft with an excellent pass, but he was a bit too deliberate with his cross and it was cut out by Marques.

City were certainly putting together some neat approach play but the final ball was invariably lacking. They were foiled again by the linesman's flag when it seemed Colin had put Croft into a promising forward position.

Leeds won their first corner on the half hour and Thompson played it short to Howson, but the goal scorer's centre was blocked by Croft.

The first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to Douglas when he blatantly blocked Huckerby's path as the City forward tried to get past three Leeds players at the same time. Safri took the resulting free-kick but it was another poor one and Nicholls cut it out quite easily.

Some of the early spark had gone from City's play and Leeds were looking more confident, Marshall having to come out and gather a testing cross from Richardson.

Huckerby mounted another one man raid on the left but spoiled his good work when his cross to the far post fell behind Fotheringham.

Thompson earned a lecture from referee Friend, but escaped a yellow card after a challenge on Fotheringham where he appeared to lead with his forearm, leaving City's new signing rubbing his head. The other new boy, Lappin, tested Sullivan with a cross from the left but the keeper gathered it confidently just below the crossbar.

City were still struggling to get back on terms and both Doherty and Dublin were guilty of misplaced passes as they tried to set attacks going from the back.

Etuhu was the next one whose radar was a little shaky when his intended pass to Huckerby was cut out by Richardson, but as Richardson broke clear he was stopped by a timely challenge from Lappin.

City won a free-kick in first half stoppage time when Etuhu was fouled. Lappin took it, but it was easily headed away by Sa and there were a few boos from the home crowd as the teams trooped off at half-time.

Half-time: Norwich City 0, Leeds United 1.

A poor pass by Dublin almost put City in trouble straight from the restart and it was Doherty who had to avert any danger by robbing Kandol at the expense of a corner. Blake's flag kick was a poor one, however, and Etuhu headed clear.

There was a delay while Sa received treatment after injuring his left ankle with a challenge which halted Croft's progress. He was able to continue after a minute or two but was not moving too freely.

Thompson had Croft in trouble moments later with another foul which left the City winger hobbling badly but surprisingly the Leeds man escaped a yellow card once again after a ticking off from the referee.

Sa seemed to have regained his mobility enough to make one important clearance from his own six-yard box as Norwich pushed forward.

Eight minutes into the half, Huckerby's persistence earned a corner on the right, but Lappin's in-swinging kick was a poor one and Thompson volleyed it clear at the near post.

There was a bit of commotion in the crowd behind Marshall's goal and it appeared that City stewards were escorting a Norwich fan in a white baseball cap towards the exit.

Back on the field, Blake took an in-swinging corner for Leeds, their third of the match, but Marshall was out to claim it confidently.

City won their fourth corner when a cross from Lappin was deflected behind the goal and the flag kick produced the equaliser after 58 minutes from Dublin.

Safri played a little one-two with Lappin from the corner and then crossed towards the six-yard box, where Marques got in a header but it fell to Dublin, who flashed a right foot volley into the net like a bullet.

Dublin's sixth goal of the season had set Norwich buzzing again and certainly brought the home crowd to life as the contest entered the final half hour.

City were flagged offside yet again when Brown advanced onto Dublin's through ball, but the home crowd were irate because it was clear the last touch had come off a Leeds defender.

Blake weaved his way into Norwich territory as Leeds looked to regain their lead but he fired high and wide when he had much better options.

Kandol had an even better opening moments later when Douglas sent him clear but he blazed a terrible right foot shot into the crowd.

With 25 minutes to go, the two sides had still managed only one shot on target each and they produced the two goals.

The dangerous Thompson had a dead ball chance with a free-kick on the corner of the penalty area and his left foot shot was blocked by Fotheringham with what looked suspiciously like his arm.

Midway through the half, Grant made his first change, putting on Hughes in place of Colin.

Fotheringham, who had been fairly quiet in the second half, picked out Huckerby with one excellent ball and his cross to the near post had to be cut out by Sullivan.

Fotheringham made a crucial interception as Leeds counterattacked when he got back to rob Blake.

Leeds made a change with less than 20 minutes to go when striker Moore was sent on in place of Kandol and there was a change for Norwich moments later when 18-year-old was sent on in place of Brown.

Leeds were still looking for the win and after Marshall had to race out to head clear, they were soon back on the attack with Dublin making a vital interception from a cross by Blake.

Martin, wearing bright red boots, was quick to make an impression with a tidy one-two with Safri inside the Norwich half and he then sent Croft speeding away with an excellent pass. As the winger's cross reached the near post, Martin had made up ground into the penalty area and was almost on the end of it as Leeds cleared at the expense of a corner.

After 77 minutes the Canaries moved into the lead with a quite outstanding goal by Huckerby. Fotheringham started the move inside his own half with a pass to Croft who quickly switched it to the left where Huckerby raced into the area past two defenders and tucked a left foot shot beyond the outstretched leg of Richardson and past Sullivan into the corner of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

It was greeted by joyous celebrations among home fans, who began to sense a long awaited victory for the Canaries.

Leeds made another change with less than 10 minutes left when 16-year-old Elliott replaced skipper Nicholls with Douglas taking the captains armband.

Things became a little heated while Leeds waited to take a free-kick by the right corner flag when Safri and Blake were spoken to by the referee. In the end, Thompson's dead ball effort was confidently claimed by Marshall.

Marshall did well again when he came out to claim a flick from a Thompson free-kick in a crowd of players.

With four minutes to go, the Canaries made their third change when McVeigh replaced Croft.

As the minutes ticked away, Leeds defender Heath had to go to the touchline with his nose bleeding and change his shirt as the visitors continued with 10 men while he received further attention.

McVeigh's first contribution was a rather hopeful ball, hammered from the halfway line into the Leeds area and Sullivan got to it before Huckerby could take advantage.

The home fans were going to be kept on the edge of their seats for a little longer when the fourth official signalled there would be four minutes of added time at the end of the match.

Huckerby came desperately close to scoring a second from a similar position in stoppage time when Safri put him clear and this time he was foiled by a one handed save from Sullivan.

Sullivan reacted brilliantly moments later to keep out a left foot volley from Etuhu.

In a real grandstand finish, Huckerby struck the post with Sullivan beaten.

Result: Norwich City 2, Leeds United 1

MoM: Huckerby

Norwich: Marshall, Colin, Dublin, Doherty, Lappin, Fotheringham, Safri, Etuhu, Croft, Brown, Huckerby. Subs: Gallacher, Thorne, Hughes, McVeigh, Martin.

Leeds: Sullivan, Richardson, Heath, Rui Marques, Armando Sa, Douglas, Nicholls, Howson, Thompson, Kandol, Blake. Subs:

Ankergren, Westlake, Foxe, Moore, Tom Elliott.

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire)

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