Norwich City came through a tough test against Plymouth Argyle to win 2-1 and increase their gap to the chasing pack to four points.

Josh Sargent’s strike combined with Ashley Phillips’ own goal to turnaround a 1-0 deficit at Carrow Road, furthering City’s Championship play-off hopes with just seven games left of the regular season.

They established dominance early on, creating two-half chances within four minutes of kick-off. Gabriel Sara’s header was cleared comfortably, however, before Sargent’s snapshot succumbed to the same fate as he declined to pass to Jack Stacey.

But the Canaries’ early dominance counted for very little when Morgan Whittaker opened the scoring 10 minutes in. A defensive calamity on the Norwich left allowed Matthew Sorinola to cross under very little pressure, Whittaker nodding a free header past Angus Gunn for 1-0.

Sargent had the chance to level things quickly when Stacey sent him through on goal just three minutes later, but Phillips’ late intervention superbly denied the American.

He again was the beneficiary when Borja Sainz cut back from the byline with the outside of his foot, diverting only into the arms of a comfortable Michael Cooper before Kenny McLean fired over from 15 yards.

Sainz looked set for a trademark screamer when a corner broke for him to volley on the edge of the box, but the Spaniard miscued his spinning effort well wide.

The 23-year-old was quickly becoming the protagonist in the hosts’ search for a way back into the game, and he had the sold-out crowd on the edge of their seats as he left Phillips for dead and raced into the Plymouth box. He was quickly crowded out, however, and saw his deflected shot loop tamely back to Cooper.

Sargent had maybe his best chance of the lot when a corner broke to him midway through the half, volleying goalward but seeing his shot deflected onto the post.

Argyle were proving effective counter-punchers and had a great chance to double their lead in such fashion as the opening period drew to a close. It seemed like a foregone conclusion when Ryan Hardie rounded Gunn, but somehow he contrived to flash across the empty goal and keep the scoreline as it was.

Sargent nearly had a golden chance when Sainz raced through on goal and tried to find him unmarked, but the City flyer’s chip was behind his team-mate to the latter's dismay.

With Coventry and Preston both winning while City faced the prospect of a shock loss at home, the pressure was on going into a crucial second half.

The first-half pattern resumed after the break, with the home side camped on the edge of the area and Plymouth looking for openings in transition. They found one when Whittaker worked some room on his weaker right foot, but Gunn was able to save with his feet.

The Barclay was then ready to celebrate in union when the ball broke to Sainz in his customary inside left position, the area they’d seen him curl multiple vital goals in from this season. He could only smash high and wide, however, to their great disappointment.

But they didn’t have to wait long to celebrate, Sargent finally putting a chance away when substitute Christian Fassnacht found him 15 yards out with a precise corner delivery.

Set-pieces have been a weakness for Ian Foster’s side throughout the campaign, so it was no surprise when City then completed the turnaround with another corner. Sam McCallum was keen to claim the goal after he flicked Sara’s corner on, but replays showed a vital Phillips deflection that took it into the side-netting.

Hardie very nearly found an equaliser within four minutes of that goal when Houghton found him one-on-one again, but a sublime Gunn stop kept his side in the lead.

Sara’s fierce free-kick was as close as anyone came to adding to the scoreline thereafter, his effort thumping the bar before Fassnacht inexplicably looped over the crossbar.

The win maintains City’s significant momentum as they face a crunch double-header against Leicester and Ipswich next week, with plenty more twists and turns expected in the promotion race but Norwich now in an even better position.


The Pink Un:


12. Long (GK)

8. Gibbs

14. van Hooijdonk

16. Fassnacht (on for Nunez, 57)

21. Batth

24. Duffy (on for 87)

35. Fisher

44. Aboh

49. Montoia

Head Coach: David Wagner


Goals: Sargent (67), Phillips (og, 74)


The Pink Un:


21. Hazard (GK)

3. Sousa (on for Miller, 71)

5. Pleguezuelo (on for Phillips, 80)

6. Scarr

8. Edwards (on for Sorinola, 64)

11. Wright

15. Bundu

23. Waine (on for Devine, 81)

27. Forshaw (on for Randell, 71)

Head Coach: Ian Foster

Bookings: Randell (18), Sorinola (30), Miller (35), Foster (head coach, 45+2), Devine (69), Houghton (70), Pleguezuelo (82)

Goals: Whittaker (10)


10 - GOAL PLYMOUTH (Whittaker): Sorinola has acres to cross for Whittaker, who nods unmarked past Gunn top open the scoring.

13 - Stacey sends Sargent through on goal, but Phillips slides in with a fantastic block as the American pulls the trigger.

16 - Sainz flicks across goal for Sargent, who can't divert beyond Cooper.

16 - McLean breaks into the box before firing well over the bar.

25 - Sara cuts in and curls towards the far corner, but not with enough power to really trouble Cooper.

32 - A corner breaks for Sargent to volley, but his deflected effort hits the post and bounces away.

37 - Whittaker slips Hardie through on goal and he rounds Gunn before sliding across the face of goal and away from a tight angle.

43 - Houghton finds space at a corner and diverts towards goal, but Gunn collects easily.

45+1 - Sainz races through on goal and tries to chip across for an unmarked Sargent, but his pass is behind the striker.

Half time: Norwich City 0-1 Plymouth Argyle

58 - Whittaker works some room on his right foot, forcing Gunn to save with his feet.

65 - The ball breaks for Sainz on the edge of the box before he smashes over and wide.

67 - GOAL NORWICH (Sargent): Fassnacht swings a low corner towards Sargent and he diverts beyond Cooper expertly.

74 - GOAL NORWICH (Phillips O.G): McCallum flicks Sara's corner and it's inadvertently placed in the far corner by Phillips.

78 - Houghton finds Hardie through on goal and he shapes to curl into the far corner but is denied by a superb Gunn save.

85 - Sara's fierce free-kick thumps the bar and falls to Fassnacht, who somehow loops his header over the bar.

Full time: Norwich City 2-1 Plymouth Argyle


Gunn 9, Stacey 7, Sorensen 7, Gibson 6, McCallum 6, McLean 6, Nunez 5, Sara 6, Barnes 6, Sainz 7, Sargent 6. Subs: Fassnacht 6, Duffy 5.


Possession: 64%-36%

Shots: 23-8

On target: 4-4

Corners: 13-3

Fouls: 10-12

Added time: 3 mins/7 mins

ATTENDANCE: 26,622 (1,306 Plymouth)

REFEREE: James Linington