Burton Albion 2 Norwich City 1
PUBLISHED: 16:59 18 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:36 19 February 2017
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Norwich City’s fading Championship play-off hopes suffered a major blow with a 2-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Burton on their first ever trip to the Pirelli Stadium.
Michael Kightly and Cauley Woodrow scored in either half, with Cameron Jerome replying shortly after the break in another desperately poor offering on the road from Alex Neil’s depleted squad.
Neil made one change from the starting line up that drew 2-2 against Newcastle United in the Championship on Tuesday. Alex Pritchard returned to the XI with Wes Hoolahan dropping to the bench in the only change to the Canaries’ matchday squad. Neil had hinted on Friday he had a couple of fresh injury concerns but there were no new additions to a lengthy injury list that includes the likes of Nelson Oliveira, Ivo Pinto and Steven Naismith. James Maddison had been passed fit after a back problem but was not in the 18.
Tom Naylor tried to take Mitchell Dijks on the outside in the opening moments at the expense of a corner that Yanic Wildschut and Pritchard cleared.
Steven Whittaker hacked the ball away inside his own six yard box in the seventh minute after John Ruddy had parried Woodrow’s angled strike.
Jerome whipped a right-footed shot wide of the far post in the 18th minute following a composed build up involving Jonny Howson and Pritchard.
Alex Tettey then clubbed a shot over the stand from the edge of the area following a penetrative burst from Wildschut.
Woodrow rolled home the opener from inside the Norwich six yard box in the 25th minute after Klose was embarrassingly robbed by Lasse Vigen Christensen trying to shepherd the ball over his own byline, allowing the midfielder to square for his unmarked team mate.
Jon McLaughlin grasped Dijks’ far post header from Pritchard’s corner in the 37th minute but City’s threat remained sporadic.
Neil responded to a lacklustre half with Hoolahan replacing Jacob Murphy during the interval. Wildschut’s angled shot was parried by McLaughlin as Norwich tried to up the ante, attacking the end with their away support.
Jerome then headed Pritchard’s whipped free kick a couple of yards wide. But the in-form striker deflected Whittaker’s wild miscue past McLaughlin in the 52nd minute to draw his side level. Burton’s players surrounded referee Probert claiming Jerome had handled the ball into the net, but the official turned down the appeals.
Burton went back in front four minutes later when Kightly cleverly chopped back inside Russell Martin to control Woodrow’s pass and lift a cool right-footed lob over the stranded Ruddy, with the Canaries caught on the counter.
Pritchard advanced onto Jerome’s flick but his similar attempt lacked the precision of Kightly and the ball rolled wide of McLaughlin’s far post.
Josh Murphy was introduced for Wildschut as City piled men forward in the final quarter but Burton nearly profited again on the counter when Lloyd Dyer’s rising strike cleared Ruddy’s bar.
Neil made his final change with Kyle Lafferty adding some aerial threat for Pritchard. Howson’s dipping half-volley drifted wide from long range before Luke Varney hammered over at the opposite end.
Hoolahan tumbled just inside the Burton box after appearing to be shoved by Tom Flanagan in the final seconds but referee Probert waved away Norwich penalty appeals.
• Burton Albion: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Mousinho, Turner, Sordell, Woodrow (Varney 80), Naylor, Christensen (Barker 88), Kightly (Dyer 77), L Murphy, Irvine. Subs: (not used): Bywater, Williamson, Palmer, Miller.
• Goals: Woodrow (25), Kightly (56)
• Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Klose, Dijks, Howson, Tettey, Jacob Murphy (Hoolahan 45), Pritchard (Lafferty 86), Wildschut (Josh Murphy 77), Jerome. Subs: (not used): McGovern (GK), Bassong, Bennett, Godfrey.
• Goal: Jerome (52)
• Bookings: Jerome (dissent, 59)
• Time added on: 1 minute / 4 minutes
• Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
• Attendance: 5,263 (1,704 away fans)