Stoke City 1, Norwich City 0

Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic collects the ball safely in a crowded penalty area. Picture: Paul Che

Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic collects the ball safely in a crowded penalty area. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City's Premier League future was still not secure after they crashed to the only goal of a dire 90 minutes at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam scored the winner in the first minute of the second half, firing home following a knock-down by striker Peter Crouch.

It was a scruffy, sometimes bad-tempered contest littered with yellow cards, and the Canaries could have few complaints about the outcome after failing to seriously test home goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The only real grievance they could have was when Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross appeared to handle from a Robert Snodgrass corner in the first half, but the officials failed to spot it.

Crouch and Adam might have stretched Stoke's advantage later in the second half, but the closest the visitors came to levelling was when Kei Kamara looped a header over the bar in stoppage time.


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Victory virtually guarantees safety for Stoke, but the result leaves Chris Hughton's men still looking over their shoulder as they prepare to welcome Aston Villa to Carrow Road next Saturday.

The Canaries showed three changes from the side that started the 2-1 victory at home to Reading a week earlier.

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Ryan Bennett continued in the centre of defence after coming off the bench for the injured Michael Turner, who was still sidelined by a groin injury.

Steven Whittaker returned at left-back in place of Javier Garrido after shrugging off a knee problem, while Alex Tettey was preferred to Elliott Bennett in midfield.

Stoke were without defender Marc Wilson (hamstring), with Andy Wilkinson replacing him, but midfielder Charlie Adam and striker Cameron Jerome recovered from ankle problems and Matthew Etherington recovered from a back problem to feature on the bench.

There was a wintry feel to the afternoon with a strong wind blowing and an impromptu hailstorm half an hour before kick-off, but the game started in bright sunshine, Norwich wearing their black away kit.

Stoke forced a corner in the opening minute, Shawcross heading over from Whelan's kick.

A misjudgement from Shawcross then handed Norwich a corner, but the kick from Snodgrass was poor and Russell Martin's backflick was cleared.

A foul by Bassong on Crouch gave Stoke a free-kick 25 yards out, but Adam curled his shot over the top.

The Canaries went close on seven minutes when Russell Martin swung in a cross from the right and Snodgrass headed just over.

Another attack almost bore fruit as Johnson poked a shot over the top after a flick from Kamara, following a header from Holt.

Whittaker was lectured for a foul on Adam that handed Stoke another free-kick, but Whelan curled it straight into Bunn's hands.

With 14 minutes gone, Crouch might have done better from an Adam cross when he managed only a glancing header that was easy for Bunn to gather.

Stoke went closer when Crouch won a corner on 21 minutes, Adam swinging in the kick for Jerome to hit a sweet volley but it was blocked by his own team-mate, Nzonzi.

Huth headed over from another Whelan corner as the home side continued to dominate.

A late challenge by Nzonzi left Kamara in need of treamment and earned the Stoke midfielder the first yellow card of the afternoon.

Norwich won a couple of corners to ease the pressure and from the second, Shawcross appeared to get away with handling the kick from Snodgrass before the ball dropped to Kamara, who blazed into the crowd.

There was further controversy when a poor backheader from Tettey left Jerome racing through against Bunn, and the striker went in with a very high boot to knock the ball from the keeper's hands. Both men finished flat on the turf, though Bunn got up sooner and apparently none the worse for the collision, to the annoyance of the home crowd, and after treatment Jerome was booked for the challenge.

Holt was booked seven minutes before the break for barging into the back of Huth and could have no real complaints.

Crouch followed him into the book for a high challenge that caught Tettey and left the midfielder needing attention before he hobbled back into action.

• Half-time - Stoke City 0, Norwich City 0

Less than a minute after the restart, Stoke took the lead through Adam.

Crouch beat Ryan Bennett in the air to head on a long through-ball and as Bassong grappled with Jerome, the Norwich defence failed to spot Adam pick up the loose ball and, taking it in his stride, drill a low left-foot shot past Bunn.

Adam went close again a minute later when, from further out, his shot flashed past the post via a deflection that the officials failed to spot.

Whelan whizzed a centre across the face of the Norwich goal but appeared to hurt his groin in the process and after trying to continue, he needed treatment.

Begovic made a good punch from Whittaker's cross to prevent Kamara getting in a header in a rare Norwich break, but the home side looked comfortable as they reached the hour mark, making their first change as Cameron replaced Wilkinson.

It should have been 2-0 on 62 minutes when a mistake by Bassong went unpunished. In attempting to clear wide on the left, he slammed the ball straight into Adam, Jerome picking up the rebound to send Adam clear but as the midfielder's cross came into the six-yard box, Crouch kicked thin air as Tettey raced back alongside him.

Stoke replaced the hobbling Whelan with Whitehead with 25 minutes remaining, before Hughton made his first change with Hoolahan sent on for Tettey.

A foul by Walters on Snodgrass gave Norwich a free-kick on the right-hand edge of the area but the kick by Snodgrass went straight into the hands of Begovic.

Nzonzi wasted a good opening when he fired behind the goal from a Jerome pass, to the annoyance of the home crowd.

Bassong was hobbling badly after lurching into touch following a brush with Jerome, bringing more derision from the Britannia regulars.

There was a second Norwich change as Elliott Bennett replaced Snodgrass with 15 minutes left.

A foul by Whitehead on Hoolahan meant Norwich had a free-kick 10 yards outside the Stoke area, but after playing it short and taking the ball wide, Elliott Bennett struck a weak effort wide.

Stoke made a final change when Jerome made way for Etherington with 11 minutes to go, and Adam kept the home crowd in good heart with a long-range effort, though it flew high and wide.

Holt and Huth tangled and it led to angry exchanges before referee Taylor spoke to both players, and to Stoke captain Shawcross.

Crouch missed another golden chance with six minutes left when Bunn saved splendidly from Nzonzi's powerful shot and the big striker put the rebound over the bar, though the flag was up.

There was one last change for the Canaries when Pilkington replaced Bassong with four minutes to go.

Johnson was booked in the final minute for not observing the spirit of a drop-ball, which led to more angry exchanges on both sides.

Kamara headed narrowly over the bar from Ryan Bennett's long throw, deep into stoppage time.

Walters was booked in the dying seconds, but Stoke were home and dry.

• Stoke City: Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson (Cameron, 61); Adam, Nzonzi, Whelan (Whitehead, 65), Walters; Jerome (Etherington, 79), Crouch. Subs (not used): Sorensen, Whitehead, Kightly, Jones, Owen.

• Norwich City: Bunn; Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett, Bassong (Pilkington, 86), Whittaker; Kamara, Howson, Tettey (Hoolahan, 68), Johnson, Snodgrass (Elliott Bennett, 75); Holt. Subs (not used): Camp, Barnett, Garrido, Becchio.

• Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

• Attendance: 27,488

• Goals: Stoke: Adam (46).

• Bookings: Stoke: Nzonzi (27), Jerome (31), Crouch (40), Walters (90). Norwich: Holt (38), Johnson (90)

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