Scunthorpe United 0, Norwich City 1
DAVID CUFFLEY Substitute Jamie Cureton maintained Norwich City’s climb away from the Championship danger zone with the winning goal 12 minutes from time at Scunthorpe this afternoon.
Substitute Jamie Cureton maintained Norwich City's climb away from the Championship danger zone with the winning goal 12 minutes from time at Scunthorpe this afternoon.
Cureton, left out of the starting line-up, replaced Dion Dublin during the second half and gave more than 1,300 travelling fans the perfect Christmas present when he knocked home a cross from Jon Otsemobor via the post.
It was the Canaries' first competitive visit to Glanford Park and it brought their second precious away victory of the season, a result which puts them above Scunthorpe in the table.
Ched Evans could have given Norwich the lead as early as the fifth minute and it was an end-to-end contest with Jonathan Forte having a goal disallowed for the hosts in the second period.
City keeper David Marshall made at least three vital saves and both Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell played a major part at the back in sending the City supporters home in festive mood.
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City boss Roeder made two changes to his starting line-up after last week's 1-1 draw at Colchester. Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin were both recalled after starting the game at Layer Road on the bench. Striker Jamie Cureton and midfielder Jimmy Smith had to settle for a place among the substitutes, along with Lee Croft, Michael Spillane and goalkeeper Steven Arnold.
Scunthorpe, beaten 3-2 at Ipswich last week, were without centre-half Andy Butler, who broke a bone in his foot at Portman Road. Jonathan Forte was recalled to the starting 11 as the only change, with assistant manager Ian Baraclough expected to switch to defence in place of Butler.
It was City's first ever competitive game at Glanford Park and it began in steady rain with Scunthorpe kicking off.
The home side threatened first when ex-Canary striker Hayes had a shot charged down by Doherty.
As the Canaries switched to the attack, Otsemobor exchanged passes with Russell and let fly right-footed but his shot sailed into the crowd.
The home side pushed forward again and Cork took a return pass from a throw-in but his centre was a poor one and Marshall easily cut it out at his near post.
With less than five minutes gone, Norwich had the first clear-cut chance of the afternoon when a mix-up in the home defence left striker Evans in the clear with only Scunthorpe keeper Murphy to beat, but Murphy blocked the youngster's shot with his legs to make a crucial save.
One minute later, City were awarded a free-kick just outside the Scunthorpe area and Pattison took it left-footed but fired over the top.
At the other end, Marshall came out again to gather a fairly hopeful cross from Hayes.
With eight minutes gone, Otsemobor did very well to block a shot from Forte on the edge of the Norwich area and one minute later, Hayes sent a fairly wild effort straight into the stand in which City's big following was seated.
Marshall cut out a low cross from the left from Forte as Scunthorpe continued to probe for an opening.
After 12 minutes, a cross from the right by Pattison was just inches away from the boot of Forte as he darted into the penalty area and Marshall was again in the right place to collect.
The home side continued to test Marshall with high crosses but he was up to safely gather the next cross from Cork.
City won a free-kick just inside the Scunthorpe half when Doherty was fouled. Otsemobor floated the kick towards Shackell, whose header drifted across the face of the goal but was safely ushered out for a goal kick by the home defence.
The hosts won the first corner of the match after 18 minutes when Huckerby challenged Cork. Hurst's flag-kick was headed away by Otsemobor but Scunthorpe soon forced another corner and although Otsemobor headed clear again, Cork advanced on the lose ball and fired in a low right-foot shot which was only just wide.
Norwich won their first corner when Williams cut out a cross from Otsemobor, but the kick by Pattison was headed away by Morris.
Midway through the half Scunthorpe came very close to taking the lead when Huckerby tried to usher the ball out for a goal kick but was instead robbed by Cork, who rolled a cross into the path of Paterson but with the goal opening up in front of him his shot was blocked by Marshall.
Hayes attempted to follow up from the loose ball but the flag was up for offside.
Hayes got the home crowd going with a volley which flew wide moments later and then as the Canaries broke, Dublin took a bang on the side of the head from the high boot of Crosby at the expense of a free-kick.
Apart from the early chance for Evans, however, little had been seen of City as an attacking force with Huckerby given little chance to impress.
The rain was really driving down by this stage and City squandered a dead ball opportunity when Fotheringham played a free-kick to Huckerby wide on the left and he slipped on the wet turf and was robbed once more by Cork.
Huckerby tried a one-two with Dublin in Norwich's next attack but Crosby was wise to it and made a timely interception.
Another one-two between Huckerby and Dublin set up a half-chance for Evans, who poked his shot goalwards but was foiled by Murphy and as City kept up the pressure, there were appeals for a penalty when Pattison's shot was blocked on the edge of the area was blocked by Goodwin. Referee Laws decided it was hand-ball but gave a direct free-kick no more than a foot outside the box. Evans took it, but his shot rebounded off the wall.
Scunthorpe manager Adkins was warned moments later by the official for protesting about an offside decision as the home team counter-attacked through Forte. It appeared he was warned that he would be sent to the stands if he offended again.
With less than three minutes left in the half, the ball was kicked out of the ground for the first time as keeper Murphy raced out to foil Evans and with conditions thoroughly miserable, players on both sides were finding control rather difficult at times.
Doherty was next to clear the roof of the stand as he broke up another Scunthorpe attack.
In the opening seconds of the second half, Dublin took a pass from Otsemobor and tried a fairly ambitious shot from around 40-yards, which went well-wide of the target.
City won a free-kick on halfway when Doherty was fouled by Forte. Otsemobor aimed it towards Dublin but Crosby got there first and Scunthorpe were able to clear temporarily.
Still the visitors pressed forward but Russell, attempting to get in a shot from the edge of the area was unable to get any power behind it and Murphy saved easily.
Four minutes into the half, a cross by Paterson brought a desperate clearance from Shackle at the expense of a corner, but the flag-kick by Hurst was headed away by Camara.
Otsemobor was just inches away from giving City the lead and opening his goal scoring account for the club with an excellent effort after 51 minutes. Gathering a throw from Marshall, the fullback played a one-two with Russell and raced forward down the right before firing a low, right-foot drive just past the post.
There was another narrow escape for Scunthorpe when two defenders jumped for the same cross by Otsemobor and the ball dropped for Huckerby but he volleyed over the top from a good position.
The home side threatened 10 minutes into the half when a cross by Hayes was headed clear by Doherty but only as far as Goodwin, whose powerful effort struck Pattison and flew over the top.
The Canaries were suddenly under pressure and the home crowd thought they were celebrating a goal after 56 minutes when Forte scrambled the ball home from close-range but the linesman's flag came to the rescue for the visitors.
With just over an hour gone, Roeder made a double change with Cureton replacing Dublin and Smith on for Pattison.
Smith, taking up the wide-right position to allow Russell to return to the centre of midfield, immediately won a corner. The flag-kick from Fotheringham was met by the head of Shackell but with the ball bobbling about in the six-yard box, Hayes managed to hook it clear.
Scunthorpe missed another opportunity to break the deadlock when a cross by Hurst dropped for Morris but he volleyed over the top when he should have done better.
Doherty cut out a centre from Williams as City came under pressure again and then Russell came to the rescue with a clearance under pressure from Paterson, who was shown the yellow card for a foul on the Norwich man.
Shackell was next to save the day after Forte had robbed Otsemobor with the big defender making a well-judged interception just a few yards out.
Cureton tried to create room for a shot from the edge of the area after a pass from Smith but despite weaving this way and that, the substitute had his effort charged down.
Huckerby spoiled some excellent work after 73 minutes when he did extremely well to retrieve an over-hit cross from Otsemobor and get the better of Cork but, with Smith and Cureton well placed to receive a cross, he instead fired into the side netting.
Huckerby had another opportunity just a minute later when Russell put him through but his shot was beaten away by Murphy.
A splendid flick by Cureton almost put Huckerby clear again but this time Murphy raced out and just got there first to hammer the ball away.
With just over 12 minutes left, the Canaries got the goal they were looking for and it came through substitute Cureton with his seventh of the season. There was a foul on Smith in the build-up to the goal, but the referee played the advantage and Otsemobor raced away down the right to deliver a low cross, which Cureton knocked home via the post.
Scunthorpe immediately made a change when Taylor replaced Hayes and they came close to a swift equaliser when Goodwin sent a volley just over the top.
There was a brief hold-up when Murphy raced out of his goal to clear from Russell and accidentally caught the Norwich man on the back of the head. Russell required treatment but was soon back in the action.
There was another chance for the hosts when Forte blasted across the face of the goal when he should have done better.
There were appeals for a penalty when substitute Taylor went down under challenge from Shackell but the referee was unimpressed.
With five minutes left, both sides made a change with Croft replacing Huckerby and taking up his position wide on the left, and Ameobi on in place of Baraclough for Scunthorpe.
Ameobi was almost on the scoresheet straight away when he connected with a Forte cross but was denied by Marshall, making a fine save at the near post.
As the game entered the final minutes Marshall was left hobbling after he jumped to gather a cross from Hurst.
With four minutes of time added on, Scunthorpe made their final change with Sparrow replacing Hurst.
Marshall dived to his left to deny Paterson as the desperate search for an equaliser continued.