Plymouth 1, Norwich City 2
PUBLISHED: 16:13 13 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:46 10 September 2010
Norwich City's new strike partnership enjoyed a profitable afternoon as they secured their side's first victory of the season against 10-man Plymouth at Home Park. Arturo Lupoli gave the Canaries the lead after 15 minutes after a slick header from debutant Antoine Sibierski. And the Frenchman wrapped up victory after 58 minutes when he drilled home a free-kick.
Norwich City's new strike partnership enjoyed a profitable afternoon as they secured their side's first victory of the season against 10-man Plymouth at Home Park.
Italian striker Arturo Lupoli gave the Canaries the lead after 15 minutes after a slick header from debutant Antoine Sibierski.
And the Frenchman wrapped up victory after 58 minutes when he drilled home a free-kick after a touch from skipper Mark Fotheringham.
It was City's first away victory since February and it was embarrassingly easy at times, although there was a late scare when Paul Gallagher scored for the hosts in stoppage time.
Plymouth's cause was not helped by the dismissal of defender Krisztian Timar within the first half hour for two yellow cards.
The margin of victory could have been so much greater for Norwich with Lupoli having another first half goal disallowed and both Lupoli and Matty Pattison striking the crossbar after the break.
For nearly 600 travelling fans, it was a great result after two dreadful displays by their team on their previous two visits to Plymouth.
French signing Antoine Sibierski made his City debut as one of two changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Birmingham a fortnight ago.
Sibierski was included in attack but Darel Russell, reported to have had a groin operation during the international break, retained his place in the side after Sammy Clingan was ruled out by the shoulder injury he suffered on Northern Ireland duty in midweek, a problem expected to rule him out for at least a month.
The other change was a right back where Elliot Omozusi returned after a thigh injury in place of Jon Otsemobor, who was not included in the 16.
Defender Jonathan Grounds on loan Middlesbrough was named among the five substitutes.
Plymouth made two changes to the team that drew 0-0 at Burnley. Jermaine Easter and Yoanne Folly replaced Steve MacLean and Luke Summerfield.
Included among the substitutes were Belgian international striker Emile Mpenza and French winger Nicolas Marin, both of whom were hoping for their first taste of action for the home side.
City kicked off and won a throw on the right which Omozusi aimed at Sibierski but it was Seip who won the first header.
The visitors pushed forward again down the left and Timar had to guide the ball to safety with Lupoli close behind him.
As Plymouth switched to the attack, Puncheon tried to control a cross field ball from Walton, but Hoolahan was on hand to tidy up.
After three minutes, the home side won the first corner, conceded by Stefanovic, but Clark and Puncheon made a hash of their short corner routine and the winger's cross was far too strong, enabling City to clear their lines.
An offside decision caused some amusement moments later when Marshall had to remove the corner flag in attempting to take a free-kick and in the end, Bertrand took it and squared the ball back to his keeper, who had taken the safer option of going back between the posts.
A foul by Hoolahan on Duguid gave Plymouth a free-kick wide on the right and Puncheon curled it towards the six-yard box, where Marshall jumped to punch clear.
It had been a fairly quiet first 10 minutes. Sibierski tried to flick a pass from Kennedy into the path of Lupoli but did not make a meaningful contact and keeper Stack collected easily.
Kennedy was in the right place to cut out a low cross from Duguid after a neat Plymouth move down the right, but so far neither keeper had really been troubled.
City's new attacking combination paid dividends after 15 minutes, however, when Lupoli gave them the lead with his third goal of the season.
And it was new recruit Sibierski who did the damage, directing the perfect header into Lupoli's path and although the ball brushed Seip, Lupoli reacted quickly to rifle a left-foot shot past Stack.
As Plymouth pushed forward, Puncheon went down under challenge from Stefanovic but appeals for a penalty were very optimistic.
Pattison came close to stretching Norwich's lead a minute later when his powerful left-foot shot from 30-yards narrowly cleared the bar.
There was some concern for City soon afterwards when Sibierski was fouled by Timar in the centre circle. The referee played the advantage but when the attack broke down, Sibierski had treatment on his ankle and Timar was shown the yellow card.
The referee's notebook was out again two minutes later when Omozusi was shown the yellow card for a poor challenge on Barker.
Puncheon tried his luck from more than 25-yards as the hosts went back on the attack, but his left-foot shot swerved a long way off target.
The home crowd were fairly quiet after their side's poor start and an attempted through ball from Clark was far too strong, Marshall gathering easily.
The Canaries thought they had extended their lead after 27 minutes when Lupoli had the ball in the net once again, but his effort was ruled offside.
It was an excellent move with Sibierski heading Stefanovic's long ball into the path of Pattison, whose powerful left-foot shot struck the bar and rebounded for Lupoli to knock it home, but the celebrations were soon cut short by the assistant referee's flag.
A foul by Puncheon on Hoolahan earned him a word from the referee and gave Norwich a free-kick 10-yards into the Plymouth half.
Bertrand's kick was headed away by Walton but City kept pressing and Lupoli flashed a header wide from a cross by Omozusi.
With 32 minutes gone, Pattison missed a golden chance to make it 2-0. He started the move with a pass to Russell, who in turn fed Hoolahan, who weaved his way to the edge of the six-yard box and presented Pattison with a square pass and an open goal, but he managed to put his right-foot shot over the bar.
Plymouth were reduced to 10 men when Timar was shown a second yellow card for a tug on Sibierski on the edge of the centre circle.
The decision seemed rather harsh but Plymouth immediately made a change, replacing Puncheon with another defender Kouo-Doumbe.
Walton then earned a word from the official when he caught Russell on the back of the head with his elbow, but this time there was no booking.
The home side were at sixes and sevens and they survived strong appeals for a penalty seven minutes before the break.
Walton's attempted back pass fell short and was intercepted by Lupoli, who went round the keeper and picked out Hoolahan, who appeared to be brought down by Seip as he tried to tee up a shot, but the referee waved play on.
The Canaries were well on top against 10 men and really should have been more than one goal ahead as the interval approached.
The yellow card was produced again two minutes before the interval when Lupoli fouled Folly but the free-kick by Clark was cut out by Russell, to add to the home crowd's frustration.
In the final minute of the half, Gallagher found space to cross from the right but it summed up Plymouth's afternoon so far when his centre drifted out for a throw-in.
The ground was now bathed in bright sunshine, appropriate for City's travelling fans, and the half ended with Marshall easily gathering a tame shot from Easter after a good cross field pass by Gallagher.
t Half-time: Plymouth Argyle 0, Norwich City 1
Within a minute of the restart, City were inches from extending their lead. Omozusi crossed from the right and Lupoli's right-foot volley crashed against the bar.
They had another opportunity seconds later when a quickly taken free-kick by Hoolahan played Bertrand into space on the left but he blasted a left-foot shot wide of the target.
There was a delay while Lupoli needed treatment after taking a knock but he was soon back in action.
As the home side launched their first attack of the second period, Gallagher produced an inswinging cross from the left which drifted across the six-yard box, but there was no colleague on hand to take advantage.
Pattison's finishing let him down again when he was put clear on the right but as he advanced into the Plymouth area, he tried a left-foot shot and scuffed it into the side netting.
Eight minutes after the break, City boss Roeder made his first change, replacing Lupoli with Cureton.
There were appeals for a penalty from the home crowd when Gallagher crossed from the left and Duguid's header struck Hoolahan, but claims for hand-ball were waved aside.
Plymouth won a corner on the right as their fans tried to get behind them, but Clark's kick was easily headed away by Stefanovic.
There was another booking, this time for Walton, when he threw the ball away in his annoyance at a decision.
An obvious hand-ball by Gallagher gave the visitors a free-kick 10-yards outside the Plymouth area and they took advantage in the best possible way when Sibierski made it 2-0 with his first goal for the club.
Fotheringham tapped the free-kick into his path and the Frenchman struck a low, right-foot drive past Stack and just inside the post.
It was no more than Norwich deserved after dominating the contest to an almost embarrassing degree.
Plymouth's afternoon was going from bad to worse and they conceded a free-kick no more than 10-yards out when Stack picked up a back pass from Barker under pressure from Cureton.
City's dead-ball routine failed, however, when Cureton slipped going for Sibierski's pass and although he managed to find Pattison, the midfielder fired well over the top.
With 25 minutes to go, Plymouth made another change when Fallon was sent on in place of Easter.
Midway through the half, City almost had a third when Cureton showed persistence to turn Bertrand's pass into the path of Russell, whose curling shot was dipping just under the bar, only for Stack to tip it over the top.
Excellent work by Sibierski created an opening for Cureton but after a neat sidestep, the substitute's shot was deflected wide for a corner.
The flag-kick was cleared as far as Fotheringham and when he knocked the loose ball across goal, Kennedy nodded it into the path of Sibierski, who touched it onto the post at full stretch but the flag was up for offside.
The home side made their final change after 71 minute when Mpenza replaced Walton.
Pattison was determined to get his first Norwich goal and it very nearly arrived when he cut inside from the right and struck a powerful left-foot shot that landed on top of the net.
There was a brief alarm for City when Marshall failed to gather a cross and Fallon's shot was cleared off the line by Bertrand.
Sibierski showed another good touch when he took a pass from Cureton and played the perfect return ball into the path of the substitute, who raced away from two defenders but struck his right-foot shot straight at Stack.
At the other end, Gallagher, Plymouth's best player, tried his luck from long-range but the ball took a double deflection off Stefanovic and Bertrand and rolled out for a throw.
With little more than 10 minutes to go, Roeder made a second substitution by sending Grounds on for his debut in place of Hoolahan. The loan player went to left-back, enabling Bertrand to push further forward.
Pattison came agonising close to that first goal yet again when his powerful free-kick from wide on the right struck the crossbar with Stack beaten.
Grounds joined the attack to good effect and won a corner when his cross from the left was sliced into the side netting by Kouo-Duombe.
Fotheringham's corner was aimed toward Kennedy, but Stack punched clear and the big defender suffered a blow to the shoulder in the process but was soon able to jog back and resume defensive duties.
With two minutes to go Sibierski almost made it 3-0 when he played a one-two with Cureton, but his shot was blocked by Kouo-Doumbe at the expense of a corner.
As they waited to take the kick Norwich made their final change with Croft replacing Russell.
Croft was soon involved when his low cross towards Cureton was cut out by Kouo-Doumbe.
With three minutes of time added on, Plymouth reduced the arrears when Gallagher scored with a low, right-foot shot just inside the post after Kennedy was unable to make a clean clearance.
A free-kick by Clark gave the home crowd some late excitement before Stefanovic hammered the ball clear.
t Result: Plymouth Argyle 1, Norwich City 2
t Plymouth: Stack, Duguid, Timar, Seip, Barker, Puncheon, Folly, Walton, Clark, Gallagher, Easter.
Subs: Paterson, Doumbe, Fallon, Marin, Mpenza.
t Norwich: Marshall, Omozusi, Kennedy, Stefanovic, Bertrand, Pattison, Russell, Fotheringham, Hoolahan, Lupoli, Sibierski.
Subs: Nelson, Cureton, Grounds, Koroma, Croft.
t Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire)