Coventry City 1, Norwich City 0
PUBLISHED: 14:41 08 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:27 10 September 2010
Norwich City were reduced to nine men as they suffered more misery in the Midlands, beaten by the only goal at struggling Coventry.
Norwich City were reduced to nine men as they suffered more misery in the Midlands this afternoon, beaten by the only goal at struggling Coventry.
Defender Gary Doherty and midfielder Darel Russell were each shown two yellow cards at the Ricoh Arena as the Canaries went down to an early goal by Jay Tabb.
Tabb struck after just six minutes when Spanish defender Juan Velasco was caught out by a Michael Doyle through ball.
Manager Glenn Roeder made two changes in the first half hour when both Velasco and Mo Camara were substituted, but the real drama came after the interval.
Seven minutes after the break, Doherty was shown a second yellow for a foul on Tabb and Norwich had to thank goalkeeper David Marshall for keeping them in the contest with a string of wonderful saves.
Russell, sent off at Leicester on his previous outing, was shown a second yellow six minutes from time, also for a foul on Tabb.
In stoppage time, however, former Norwich keeper Andy Marshall made an excellent save to deny substitute Jamie Cureton a dramatic equaliser.
Norwich were left shell-shocked after Jay Tabb scored for Coventry after just five minutes from which the home team went on to just miss two more attempts.
City boss Roeder made two changes to his starting line-up from Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Watford.
Central defender Jason Shackell, who played the final half hour at Vicarage Road, returned to the side at the expense of 19-year-old Alex Pearce.
Darel Russell returned in midfield after a three match ban, but at the expense of striker Ched Evans. Dion Dublin was the only striker named in the 11 as he faced his former club, with Evans and Tuesday's goal scorer, Jamie Cureton, among the substitutes.
Darren Huckerby was sidelined for the second game in a row by a groin injury.
Coventry boss Chris Coleman was able to name an unchanged side with midfielder Jay Tabb recovering from a knock on the ankle.
There was just one change to the 16 on duty for Coventry in Wednesday's 0-0 draw against Queen's Park Rangers, with Danny Ireland getting the nod as substitute goalkeeper.
Coventry kicked off on a grey and blustery afternoon and there were plenty of big gaps in the stadium, perhaps reflecting the home side's poor position in the Championship.
The Canaries won the first free-kick after two minutes for a foul on Russell, but the ball eventually found its way to former Norwich keeper Andy Marshall in the Coventry goal.
Norwich were operating with five men in midfield, the same as the Sky Blues, with Dublin the lone striker and being booed at every touch by the crowd.
The visitors went down to 10 men when Russell left the field for attention to a bang in the face following a chal-lenge by Doyle and while he was off the pitch, Coventry took the lead.
An excellent diagonal ball from Doyle caught out Velasco and Tabb brought it under control before cutting inside the fullback and beating David Marshall with a powerful right foot shot.
That goal came in the sixth minute and one minute later, Coventry almost increased their lead when Marshall had to make a crucial save from Best.
Russell was back on the field by now after changing his shirt and was now wearing number 49.
Norwich were all over the place in the early stages and another pass from Doyle caught out Velasco, enabling Tabb to cross towards Best and it was fortunate that Best kicked thin air, but the danger was not over and Thornton followed up with a shot which clipped the outside of the post.
Camara got his head to a corner from Fox to get the ball away as Coventry continued to press.
The Canaries made a rare foray into home territory but Russell was adjudged to have fouled Ward by the left cor-ner flag.
Roeder made a very early change to his line-up when, after just 21 minutes, he sent on Pearce and withdrew Velasco. Pearce took up a position in the centre of defence with Doherty moving across to right back.
Camara earned a ticking off from the referee for protesting when he was penalised for a foul on the halfway line and the resulting free-kick by Ward went beyond Best, but left Marshall having to race out to prevent Tabb taking advantage.
With 27 minutes gone, there was another change to the Norwich line-up when Cureton was sent on in place of Camara, joining Dublin in attack with Bertrand switching to left back and Roeder reverting to a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation.
There had been no obvious sign of an injury to either Velasco or Camara and it was certainly unusual to see two tactical changes inside the first half hour, but so ineffective had Norwich been that it was perhaps not surprising and it was a good thing from their point of view that it was still only 1-0.
Still they looked indecisive at times and a free-kick from Fox was allowed to run across the six-yard box and, thankfully for Norwich, out for a goal kick with no Coventry player able to get a touch.
With little more than 10 minutes of the first half remaining, the Canaries had still not managed an attempt on goal, either on or off target, and their big contingent of travelling fans were unusually quiet, though one could not really blame them.
The opening half had been littered with free-kicks and, just as Cureton thought he had a run at the home defence, he was pulled up for handball by referee Taylor.
Coventry keeper Marshall had been a virtual spectator but he was called into action when Dublin challenged him for a cross from Pattison and, moments later, when he dived out to intercept another Pattison centre.
A huge dropkick from the Coventry keeper posed problems when it was flicked on by Best into the path of Mifsud and Norwich's Marshall did extremely well to dive at his feet and smother the ball.
Best earned a free-kick on the edge of the Norwich area when his path was blocked by Shackell, Fox taking the dead ball kick left footed but curling it well off target.
In the final minute of the half, Doherty was shown the yellow card for pulling down Tabb on the corner of the penalty area as he chased a pass from Osbourne.
Hughes blasted the free-kick into the Norwich wall and it ballooned into the air and caused some anxiety in front of Marshall before the visitors were able to clear their lines.
There were three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the half with one further alarm as Marshall had to come out to claim a back header from Pearce following a huge dropkick by his namesake at the other end.
Half-time: Coventry City 1, Norwich City 0
With just a minute gone in the second half, Russell and Dublin combined to send Croft racing towards the Coventry area and Norwich won a free-kick when his progress was halted, though it was not clear whether it was awarded for a foul or handball. Fotheringham rolled the free-kick into the path of Cureton and he produced his side's first shot on target with a first time effort which Marshall grabbed at the second attempt.
As Coventry counterattacked, Thornton wasted a great chance to stretch their lead when he poked the ball wide from about eight-yards out.
There was soon a free-kick on the edge of the area for Coventry when Bertrand fouled Thornton and was shown the yellow card. Hughes took the kick and Pearce did extremely well to stretch out a leg and divert the ball for a corner.
There was real trouble for Norwich seven minutes into the second half when they were reduced to 10 men by a second yellow card for Doherty. The defender caught Tabb with a challenge on the halfway line but it seemed fairly harmless and Doherty looked very surprised when referee Taylor showed him the yellow card for the second time, swiftly followed by red.
With a one man advantage, the hosts pushed forward and Hughes fired narrowly over the top.
There was a bit of a skirmish moments later when Thornton swung a boot at Russell in retaliation for a tackle but when things calmed down, it was Russell who was shown the yellow card.
There was a narrow escape for the Canaries when Hughes volleyed over the top from a cross by Osbourne with the goal at his mercy.
Russell had moved in at right back since Doherty's departure and Roeder was on the touchline preparing for another change, with Evans stripped off and ready to enter the battle.
On the hour, there was another booking as Fotheringham fouled Hughes and before Coventry could take the free-kick, Evans came on in place of Croft.
When the free-kick was finally taken, Marshall produced an excellent save to keep Norwich in the game, keeping out a close range effort from Ward after Hughes floated the ball into the area.
A stinging free-kick from Fox was beaten away by Marshall as Coventry tried to deliver the killer blow and then Shackell had to head clear from another Fox dead ball kick.
There were also appeals for handball as Shackell controlled an awkwardly bouncing ball in his own area, but the referee was unimpressed.
The home side were getting a rapid sequence of free-kicks around the edge of the Norwich area and Dublin had to head clear when Hughes floated another one towards the penalty spot.
With two defenders substituted and another sent off, Dublin was now operating at the centre of a three man defence with Pearce on his right and Shackell on his left.
Shackell and Russell both got in headers from a Fotheringham free-kick as the ball bobbed around the Coventry area but this was a rare raid by the Canaries and it had been largely one way traffic.
In the final minute, a superb tackle by Shackell denied Simpson the chance to make it 2-0.
Cureton almost produced a dramatic equaliser in stoppage time with a stunning volley after being set up by Evans, but Coventry keeper Marshall made an excellent save, diving to his right.
Result: Coventry City 1, Norwich City 0