Sheffield United 1, Norwich City 2

Two second-half goals from midfielder Andrew Crofts completed the first Championship double of the season for promotion-chasing Norwich City.

Crofts took his goal tally to six for the campaign as the Canaries followed up their 4-2 Christmas home win over struggling Sheffield United by securing another vital three points at Bramall Lane.

It was City's sixth Championship away win of the season, but it took them until the second period to click into gear.

Crofts gave them the lead in the 61st minute when a David Fox corner fell to him to fire home on the half-volley.

Former Norwich loan striker Ched Evans levelled the scores eight minutes later with his eighth goal of the season, a neat finish from close range.


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But with 10 minutes left, Crofts was the man to supply an emphatic finish once again following another Fox corner.

United had the better of things before the interval with John Ruddy making an important save from Evans midway through the half, while City's only worthwhile effort was a Chris Martin free-kick that struck the bar on the stroke of half-time.

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City manager Paul Lambert made one enforced change after the 1-1 draw with Cardiff, Simeon Jackson returning to the starting eleven in place of Henri Lansbury.

Lansbury's loan from Arsenal has been extended to the end of the season, but the deal was not concluded in time for him to play against the Blades.

United boss Micky Adams included new loan signing Marcus Bent in attack – starting his second spell with the club – and recalled

Richard Cresswell, who scored in the 4-2 defeat at Carrow Road, after a shoulder injury. Johnny Ertl and Lee Williamson were relegated to the bench.

United had the first shot at goal in the second minute, but Evans volleyed horribly wide from a cross by Ward.

A foul by Hoolahan on Ward gave the Blades a free-kick on the right, Holt getting up to head away from Quinn's kick.

A neat passing move after six minutes almost posed problems for City when, finally, a cross from Mattock was allowed to drift into the six-yard box but Ruddy was out to collect.

Lowry sliced a cross from Hoolahan behind to give City their first corner. Fox's kick was headed back to him by Bent and as he crossed again, Holt headed over the bar.

United won their first corner in the 11th minute and after the ball was initially cleared, Bent headed back into the area where Evans hooked in a shot that Holt headed clear.

The home side had started brightly and Evans struck a half-volley from 25 yards that just swerved past the angle of post and bar.

Fox earned a ticking-off from referee Haines for blocking a quickly-taken free-kick by Montgomery, then Crofts was shown the yellow card for a foul on Quinn on the halfway line.

Ward tried his luck from long range as United pushed forward again, but he was well off target.

There was danger when Evans got the better of Whitbread and cut inside but his left-foot shot lacked power and Ruddy gathered it low to his left.

Ruddy kept City on terms in the 22nd minute when Ward's free-kick found Evans and he struck a low drive that the 'keeper saved with his legs, diverting the shot over the bar.

United forced two corners in quick succession without success, but Evans was being given too much room and got in another shot that struck the back of Barnett.

City won a corner when Simonsen had to punch clear Jackson's cross from under the bar, Ward heading clear from Fox's kick.

United counter-attacked quickly and Whitbread conceded another corner when he cut out a cross by Evans.

A foul by Barnett on Quinn gave the Blades a free-kick five yards outside the Norwich area in the 34th minute and Evans curled his shot just wide as Ruddy dived to his left.

From United's sixth corner, by Ward, Cresswell headed over the top, then as City pressed for once, Jackson earned a flag-kick. Fox's kick, however, found only the head of Lowry.

Quinn, sent off at Norwich in the previous meeting between the two clubs, reacted angrily to a shove in the back from Holt and had to be calmed down by the official.

One minute before the break, Chris Martin won a free-kick on the left side of the United area when Lowry was adjudged to have tripped him and was booked.

Martin took the kick and it was City's best effort of the half as his powerful shot struck the bar with Simonsen beaten.

• HALF-TIME: Sheffield United 0, Norwich City 0

A foul by Chris Martin on Montgomery gave United a free-kick in the opening seconds of the second half but Ward's free-kick was high over the top.

Cresswell then volleyed over but appeared to handle before shooting.

Holt had an opening as City counter-attacked but his first-time shot was saved by Simonsen.

Jackson brought Simonsen into action when he helped on a deflected shot by Crofts after a move involving Chris Martin and Holt as the Canaries began to look a little more ambitious.

Holt spoiled another move when he sliced a cross horribly into the crowd, much to the delight of the home supporters.

There was a scare for United on the hour when Hoolahan's long ball left Jackson clear on the left but Lowry got back to block the striker's effort at the expense of a corner - which produced the opening goal as Crofts scored his fifth of the season.

Fox took the corner from the left, Whitbread challenged Simonsen in the air and as the ball dropped, Crofts hooked it home on the half-volley with a powerful right-foot shot.

Simonsen immediately chased the referee to protest and was shown the yellow card.

Cresswell headed over from a Ward corner as United looked for a leveller, and the hosts made their first change on 65 minutes when Yeates replaced Bent, a winger for a striker, with Cresswell pushing up front alongside Evans.

And it was Evans who levelled the scores in the 69th minute. The former Norwich loan player grabbed his eighth goal of the season when he received the ball with his back to goal and Barnett behind him, but managed to turn smartly enough to fire a right-foot shot just inside the post.

City immediately made their first change by sending on Lappin for Hoolahan.

With 72 minutes gone, Chris Martin almost made it 2-1 with a powerful effort that Simonsen pushed wide, diving to his right. From the resulting corner by Fox, Holt had a free header but sent it wide.

Jackson was close to getting on the end of a cross by Holt a minute later, but Simonsen dived out to gather it, taking a knock in the process.

With 15 minutes left, Wilbraham replaced Jackson in City's second change.

Drury was booked for a challenge on Ward three minutes later.

There were just 10 minutes left when Crofts restored City's lead with a similar effort following another Fox corner, but from slightly further out. The kick from Fox was flicked on by Holt and cleared as far as Lappin, whose shot was blocked, but fell to Crofts, who reacted quickly to hit it sweetly on the bounce past Simonsen.

Quinn was booked before play restarted, and two minutes later Fox went into the book for a foul on Evans.

With four minutes left, Nelson became the third and final substitute to be used for the Canaries when he replaced Whitbread.

Bogdanovic was sent on for Cresswell with just over a minute left as United made their last change.

Four minutes of time were added but City held on fairly comfortably for another away victory.

• RESULT: Sheffield United 1, Norwich City 2

• Sheffield United: Simonsen; Parrino, Bartley, Lowry, Mattock; Ward, Montgomery, Quinn, Cresswell; Evans, Bent. Subs: Long, Lowton, Ertl, Kozluk (for Quinn, 83), Bogdanovic (for Cresswell, 89), Williamson, Yeates (for Bent, 65).

• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Barnett, Whitbread, Drury; Fox; Crofts, Hoolahan; Chris Martin; Jackson, Holt. Subs: Steer, Tierney, Nelson (for Whitbread, 86), Korey Smith, Lappin (for Hoolahan, 69), McNamee, Wilbraham (for Jackson, 75).

• Goals: United: Evans (69). City: Crofts (61, 80).

• Attendance: 20,725

• Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear)

• Bookings: Bookings: United: Lowry (45), Simonsen (61), Quinn (81). City: Crofts (14), Drury (78), Fox (83).

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