Norwich City 1, Sheffield United 0

PUBLISHED: 18:22 20 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:47 10 September 2010

Lee Croft celebrates winning the game for Norwich City deep into injury time. Picture: Adrian Judd

Lee Croft celebrates winning the game for Norwich City deep into injury time. Picture: Adrian Judd

David Cuffley

Lee Croft produced a dramatic stoppage time goal to give Norwich City their first home victory of the season against Sheffield United. The game was into time added on when Croft took a pass from substitute Jamie Cureton and curled a left foot shot past goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.

Norwich City keeper David Marshall called into action against Sheffield United. Picture: Adrian Judd

Lee Croft produced a dramatic stoppage time goal to give Norwich City their first home victory of the season against Sheffield United.

The game was into time added on when Croft took a pass from substitute Jamie Cureton and curled a left foot shot past goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.

But just a minute earlier, Norwich keeper David Marshall pulled off a marvellous save to deny United substitute Danny Webber what looked like a certain goal.

Marshall had also made excellent first half saves from Gary Speed and David Cotterill to keep Norwich on terms.

Before Croft struck with his first goal of the season, Darel Russell and Antoine Sibierski had both brought important saves out of Kenny.

City were forced to reshuffle their defence after the loss of both centre backs through injury, but Elliott Omozusi and Jonathan Grounds, making his full debut, did a solid job at the back.

City kicked off on a very warm afternoon, defending the Barclay goal, and it was immediately clear that Omozusi was partnering Grounds in the centre of defence.

The Canaries won a throw in the opening seconds on the right hand side and Croft managed to get in a cross but it was headed clear. Pattison then played a pass towards Sibierski on the edge of the area but the big striker dummied and there was no one following through.

A long throw by Halford looked dangerous as United threatened for the first time but Otsemobor was in the right place to head clear.

With five minutes gone, a foul by Morgan on Russell gave City a free-kick 10-yards outside the United area. Fotheringham played it short to Sibierski, but instead of shooting, he ran the ball along the edge of the penalty area and fed it to Croft who made good headway before setting up Grounds for a left foot shot. The defender's effort lacked power, however, and was easily cleared.

The advertising boards in front of the Jarrold Stand appeared to cause problems twice in a matter of seconds when first Halford, then Sibierski toppled over, but neither was injured.

United carved out a half chance in the eighth minute when Beattie's header fell perfectly for Quinn, but he shot straight at Marshall.

City hit back with a quick burst from Croft and Otsemobor's cross was headed clear by Naysmith at the expense of a corner. Goalkeeper Kenny dropped Pattison's corner and Russell tried a snapshot from close range, but it struck Kilgallon.

City kept up the momentum and Pattison turned well in the area before getting in a cross which was also headed out for a corner. Kenny again dropped Pattison's kick but this time his colleagues came to the rescue and hacked the ball clear.

With 12 minutes gone, United went very close to taking the lead when another long throw from Halford was met with a firm header from Speed and Marshall had to dive to his left to push the ball around the post. Speed challenged again from the resulting corner but clearly pushed Otsemobor to the ground.

There was a hold up when Montgomery needed attention after taking a bang in the face when challenging Sibierski. The players took the opportunity for a quick drink before play resumed with Montgomery quickly back into the action.

Excellent work by Omozusi to dispossess Sharp enabled Norwich to break forward and Russell's persistence forced Morgan to concede another corner, but the flag kick came to nothing and there was another delay when Sibierski went down clutching his left leg. He carried on without treatment, however, and it was the visitors who pressed forward with Grounds making an important interception from a cross by Quinn.

City were certainly in the wars and after Marshall held onto an awkward cross, Otsemobor went down needing attention, as did Pattison, who was treated for cramp in the centre circle.

Otsemobor was soon needed again, heading away a cross from Cotterill for a corner. Cotterill took an in-swinging flag kick but Grounds did extremely well to head clear under pressure.

Halford took another throw from halfway and this time Grounds misjudged his header, enabling Sharp to tee-up a shot for Beattie, but he scuffed a left foot effort well wide.

Pattison's problem was clearly worse than it first appeared and he hobbled off after 25 minutes to be replaced by Lupoli, with Russell dropping into midfield.

Within seconds, the Blades had a clear opening when a misjudgement by Grounds left Sharp in the clear but, to City's relief, he fired across the face of the goal.

A foul by Sibierski on Morgan gave United a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the penalty area and Cotterill curled in a right foot shot which Marshall, again diving to his left, did well to push past the post for a corner. Cotterill took it but Beattie headed over the top.

Halford's long throws were a potential problem for City but his next one on half hour dropped over both Sibierski and Morgan as they jumped for the ball and Marshall was able to gather it on the first bounce.

Cotterill spoiled another United break with a poor cross which drifted behind the goal, but the visitors were definitely enjoying a better spell.

They won another free-kick when Drury handled six-yards outside the penalty area and Beattie took it this time but curled an awful right foot shot into the crowd.

The physio was out yet again when Sibierski needed attention for what looked like a blow on the back of the neck.

When play restarted Sibierski won his first header against Kilgallon and seemed unfortunate not to get a free-kick with the defender's arm in the back of his neck.

Finally, Kilgallon was penalised for a foul on Sibierski and Speed was lectured by the referee for protesting at the decision. Otsemobor took the free-kick and struck it powerfully but Kenny was right behind his rising drive.

A poor cross-field ball from Russell almost fell to Montgomery but Drury did well to slide in with an interception and sent the ball goalwards where it only just cleared Kenny's crossbar.

Otsemobor got the crowd going five minutes before the break when, following a forward run from Croft, the full-back burst into the United area only for his powerful shot to be cut out by Montgomery, sliding across.

Drury conceded another corner with a challenge on Cotterill, but the winger's flag kick presented Marshall with an easy catch at the near post.

An excellent break by the Blades had City stretched when Cotterill's cross was nodded down by Beattie into the path of Sharp, but the offside flag was raised as Sharp challenged Marshall and the keeper appeared to take a knock in the process.

As four minutes of injury time began, Croft went racing away with three United defenders for company but without support, he produced a tame effort from outside the area and it rolled well wide.

Norwich's best effort of the half came just before the interval when Croft found Sibierski and his low centre found its way through to Russell, who showed good control before letting fly with a goal bound right foot shot that Kenny just managed to beat away.

t Half-time: Norwich City 0, Sheffield United 0

In the second minute of the second half, United broke quickly through Sharp and he sent Beattie away on the right but the striker's low cross took a deflection off Grounds and City were able to break.

A push by Halford on Lupoli gave them a free-kick on the left, but Drury's kick was headed clear.

There was a bit of a scramble in the Norwich area when a low centre from Montgomery was cut out by Otsemobor but his clearance appeared to strike Marshall before City could scramble the ball away.

Six minutes into the half, Drury played a neat one-two with Bertrand and the full-back crossed towards the far post where Kilgallon had to make an important headed clearance. When play stopped, referee Crossley called Halford across and booked him for his challenge on Bertrand earlier in the move.

City were looking a bit livelier and a pass from Sibierski almost put Lupoli through but Kenny raced out to smother the danger.

Sibierski suffered another knock on the back of the head from a Kilgallon challenge, giving Norwich a free-kick on the right hand corner of the United box.

Fotheringham floated the ball in and Russell met it with a glancing header across the face of the goal.

After 56 minutes, United made their first change when Webber was sent on in place of Sharp.

A long clearance from Grounds brought Kenny off his line to head the ball clear as Lupoli raced through, but the keeper was always favourite to get there first.

Drury did well at the other end to rob Webber but conceded a corner in the process. Cotterill's kick was cleared as far as Morgan, who fired high over the bar. The referee then stopped play and showed the yellow card to Speed, apparently for dissent.

Drury decided to try his luck from long range when he took a pass from Russell and let fly but his effort struck Halford and as United pushed forward, Beattie ruined a promising break with an awful attempted through ball.

City attacked down the left and Fotheringham played a one-two with Bertrand but the skipper was unable to muster enough pace to get to the return pass.

It was then that Cureton was introduced into the action replacing the original substitute, Lupoli, who may have been struggling with an injury.

Cureton was not far away from getting on the end of a long ball up field from Marshall, but Kenny was out just in time.

Drury, who had done an excellent job on his return, made way for Hoolahan midway through the second half as Roeder made his final change.

Bertrand reverted to left-back as Hoolahan took up the wide left position.

United made their second change with 20 minutes left when Hendrie replaced Quinn.

Russell battled well on the edge of the United area to set up a shooting opportunity for Hoolahan but the substitute sent his left foot shot well clear of the bar.

Russell went down soon afterwards on the halfway line after a challenge from Beattie but the former England man held his hand out in apology and the City midfielder was soon back on his feet.

Norwich had another dead ball kick midway into the United half but Hoolahan played a one-two rather than get the ball in the box and when he finally crossed, Sibierski, off balance, headed wide.

An excellent ball from Hoolahan then put Cureton clear on the left side, Cureton tried to find Sibierski and did just enough to get on the end of the big striker's return pass, but then curled his shot straight at the keeper.

With less than 15 minutes to go, City produced their best attempt of the half when Otsemobor, pushing forward, found Croft and the winger's low cross was met with a first time shot by Sibierski which he struck into the ground and Kenny made an excellent save by turning the rising ball away for a corner.

Hoolahan's introduction seemed to have given Norwich more urgency and with eight minutes left, they threatened again when Otsemobor burst forward and set up Russell for a shot which only just cleared the bar.

As the visitors pushed forward, Hendrie found space to curl in a shot from just outside the penalty area but he was wide of the target. United then made their final change with Naughton replacing Cotterill.

City won another corner with five minutes left when Cureton's crossed, aimed at Sibierski, was headed clear but Fotheringham's kick was just over the head of Grounds and the danger passed.

Still Norwich were looking for that winner and a good ball by Croft sent Hoolahan on his way but he was crowded out after playing a one-two with Cureton.

In the final minute, United could have wrapped up the points when substitute Webber broke free and homed in on the Norwich goal, but Marshall did brilliantly to divert the striker's right foot shot past the post with his outstretched left hand. It was the third vital save of the afternoon by the City keeper.

With the game entering stoppage time, City took the lead dramatically when Croft scored for the first time this season. The winger took a pass from Cureton who had worked his way into the United area before beating Kenny with a curling left foot shot which may have brushed the head of Morgan on the way in. It sparked a great celebration with Marshall racing from his goal to the corner flag at the opposite end to join in.

t Result: Norwich City 1, Sheffield United 0

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