Norwich City 2, Sheffield Utd 1

PUBLISHED: 16:23 18 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:17 14 September 2010

Norwich City completed the double over Sheffield United following two well taken first half goals from strikers Leon McKenzie and Robert Earnshaw.

Norwich City completed the double over Sheffield United following two well taken first half goals from strikers Leon McKenzie and Robert Earnshaw.

It was the Canaries fourth straight home victory and meant that the promotion-chasing Blades again went without a win, now having gone eight games without picking up a maximum three points.

The promotions jitters certainly looked to have taken a grip of the Yorkshire-based team, although they did throw everything and the kitchen sink at City in the closing stages.

United did look, however, the more dangerous in the opening exchanges and deserved to take the lead in the 17th minute through Chris Armstrong but after that, they rarely threatened to score again as the Canaries' rearguard remained strong.

Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington reverted to his favoured 4-4-2 shape for this afternoon's encounter against Sheffield United at Carrow Road.

The Canaries played with five in midfield at Leeds last week and flourished as a result with the fired up visitors turning in one of their best performances of the season to come away with a well deserved 2-2 draw.

But Worthington stressed in midweek this tactical change was a “horses for courses” option and was therefore determined to be more positive for the visit of the Blades.

The City boss duly brought back potential £3.5m signing Robert Earnshaw up front with Simon Charlton being the casualty in midfield and dropping to the bench.

Having ploughed a lone furrow up front at Elland Road, Leon McKenzie now had some company on home soil.

Welsh international front man Earnshaw has managed just two in six appearances since his switch from West Bromwich Albion, both against 10-man Brighton, and was desperate to improve on that tally against the Blades. With everyone coming through last weekend's game with a clean bill of health the rest of the side virtually picked itself.

Jason Shackell got another chance to impress alongside Gary Doherty at the back, while Paul McVeigh's goals scoring display at Elland Road ensured he got in ahead of Jonatan Johansson on the right.

Worthington had plenty of options from the bench with defender Matthieu Louis Jean and reserve keeper Darren Ward the only players on the sidelines at present.

Charlton was joined by Dickson Etuhu, Youssef Safri, Johansson and keeper Paul Gallacher. Safri is now fully fit after missing the recent victory over Stoke with a hip injury but did make a brief appearance as a substitute at Leeds.

The Blades, 2-0 losers at Coventry last week made four changes to their line up. Record signing Ade Akinbiyi was the surprise omission, being replaced by the vastly experienced Neil Shipperley.

Michael Tong, returning from a one match suspension came in for Garry Flitcroft while Rob Kozluk was recalled at right back because of an ankle injury to Derek Geary.

There was also a change on the opposite flank with former Ipswich player David Unsworth returning to the starting line up after being surprising left out at the Ricoh Arena.

Phil Jagielka was pushed forward into the midfield after playing at left back at Coventry last week.

Norwich City kicked of this afternoon's match amid blustery conditions and after just eight seconds

Earnshaw latched on to a nod on but unfortunately the diminutive striker could only manage a shot well wide of the target. As in recent encounters the game got off to a fiery start with both teams slugging it out in the centre of the park with no quarter being asked or given.

United won a corner after 10 minutes which was well whipped in by Tong which was just begging for someone to get a touch on but fortunately for City, no one did and in the end the referee blew up for a foul on City defender Craig Fleming. The resurgent Andy Hughes received a stiff talking to from referee Paul Taylor after 14 minutes for a diving challenge on Chris Armstrong to highlight City's desire to get a foothold on this encounter.

Having enjoyed much of the early pressure the Blades took the lead in the 17th minute. Tong played in a central midfield role, played in a diagonal ball to Webber away on the edge of the city penalty area only to be dispossessed by a lunging Shackell. Armstrong, alert to the opportunity, stole in and picked up the loose ball to steer a superb left footed curler past Green's outstretched left hand.

A few minutes later a break from Webber saw City midfielder Carl Robinson just get back in time to clear the ball for a corner.

Tong whipped in another dangerous corner ball and Doherty's poor headed clearance fell to Blades' danger man Jagielka whose acrobatic volley deflected off Shackell and out for another corner.

On 23 minutes Darren Huckerby broke away down the middle following a through pass from Andy Hughes but unfortunately the linesman came to the Blades rescue and the referee blew up to end the attack.

Norwich City won a free-kick 30-yards out in the 26th minute after Earnshaw was scythed down by Tong in the middle of the park. Robinson took the free-kick and played the ball into the back post for Doherty who went crashing to earth under pressure from Craig Short.

Loud appeals for a penalty were dismissed by referee Taylor and having watched the replay, it looked like Doherty was more the offender that the innocent party. The Canaries, spurred on by a vociferous home crowd who were clearly adhering to the cease fire agreed by the club and fans after weeks of turmoil, were beginning to punch their way back into the game.

In the 33rd minute the Canaries pulled back a deserved equaliser. The goal came from a free-kick after Kozluk had tugged down Huckerby. Drury curled the ball into the area and defender Shackell nodded the ball in across the goal for McKenzie, lurking on the shoulder of Morgan, to glance the ball past a stranded Paddy Kenny for his fourth of the season.

Montgomery latched on to a through ball from Shipperley on the half hour mark but his effort was well wide of Green's goal. Just moments later Huckerby made rampaging run down the middle of the park and into the area and as he looked to be losing control of the ball, he dived spectacularly in the area hoping to get a penalty. However the referee was having none of it.

United quickly went on the attack and following a free flowing piece of play, Webber worked himself an opening on the right and his shot crashed into the side netting.

On 43 minutes Hughes made a poor clearing header which he headed back towards his own goal for Shipperley to latch on to and the veteran striker tried his luck from distance with a first time volley that ricocheted off Green's right hand upright.

City were quickly back on the attack again through Huckerby who managed to weave his way into the United area before his shot was well blocked by Unsworth. Just as it looked like both teams would be heading into the break all square, City went in front courtesy of arch goal poacher Earnshaw. The goal came from a Fleming cross field ball which looped over the head of Short and the Welsh international was on hand to head home unmarked at the back post past Kenny.

Half-time: Norwich City 2 Sheffield Utd 1

United came out with the bit between their teeth at the start of the second half and really got stuck into Norwich, bombarding their box with crosses. The City rearguard looked to be up to the challenge though with Doherty and Shackell working well together.

The Blades had the ball in the back of the net in the 53rd minute but were called back after the referee had blown up for a foul on Shipperley. City midfielder Robinson had gone through the veteran striker from behind, although he had been claiming he had got a foot on the ball.

From the resulting free-kick Earnshaw did well to charge down the shot and City cleared the danger. Also during the Blades' last attack, McVeigh had suffered an injury to his back and was replaced by Youssef Safri.

In the 59th minute Huckerby worked his magic down the left hand side and managed to get a shot off. Kenny tried to collect the ball but the pace of the shot was too much for him but fortunately did enough to clear the ball for a corner.

United managed to reply in kind just minutes later and this time it was Tong's turn to warm the hands of Green on the hour mark. United were beginning to look desperate for an equaliser and came close in the 63rd minute but Green managed to latch onto a well struck Webber shot.

In the 68th minute City boss Worthington made his second change, replacing McKenzie with Johansson.

Worthington's substitution of Johansson looked to be an inspired one when the Finish international had the ball in the back of the net in the 72nd minute. Johansson side-footed the ball past Kenny from a Huckerby cross, only for his effort to be ruled out by the referee for offside.

Both teams continued to work their socks off both in defence and attack and it was United enjoying the lion's share of possession as they chased the game.

In the 79th minute, with the clock ticking down, United boss Neil Warnock made a double substitution replacing Shipperley with ex-Canary Ade Akinbiyi and Montgomery for former Newcastle United star Keith Gillespie. The Blades continued to pressure but City's resolve was strong.

United boss Warnock waited anxiously as he tried to get on another substitute in Bruce Dyer but it was now the Canaries turn to go on the attack. Warnock did in fact get his man Dyer on the pitch after 86 minutes after Huckerby was called back for being offside.

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