Bristol City 2, Norwich City 1
Substitute Steve Brooker produced a dramatic stoppage time winner for Bristol City to send the Canaries tumbling to defeat as Ashton Gate this afternoon. But the final scoreline was a travesty after Norwich had dominated long periods of their Championship game against the promotion-chasing Robins.
Substitute Steve Brooker produced a dramatic stoppage time winner for Bristol City to send the Canaries tumbling to defeat as Ashton Gate this afternoon.
But the final scoreline was a travesty after Norwich had dominated long periods of their Championship game against the promotion-chasing Robins.
Dele Adebola had given Bristol City the lead four minutes before the break with a simply tap-in after goalkeeper David Marshall had palmed away a header from Michael McIndoe.
The Canaries had already struck the crossbar through Dion Dublin and they missed numerous chances in dominating the second half before a vintage goal from Darren Huckerby brought them level after 70 minutes, Huckerby robbing defender Bradley Orr and curling in a delightful right-foot shot.
You may also want to watch:
Norwich looked the more likely winners from then on, but a controversial free-kick nearly three minutes into stoppage time, given against Lee Croft, led to the dramatic headed, winning goal from Brooker.
City's management team protested before and after the final whistle and assistant manager Clark was sent from the dugout by referee Andy D'Urso.
- 1 Webber reveals he turned down 'massive job' to stay at City
- 2 'Blown away' - Gibson reveals how City wooed him for Premier League push
- 3 MATCHDAY RECAP: Hornets frustrate City in title tussle
- 4 City ace Krul reflects on Premier League interest
- 5 Spurs loanee Skipp discusses his future and potential of Canaries return
- 6 City lose Giannoulis appeal; three-game ban stands
- 7 PRESSER LIVE: City v Watford - Hanley, Pukki, Cantwell injury doubts
- 8 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 1-0 defeat against Watford
- 9 Pressure on Hornets for title-hunting City
- 10 'I rate him. He's a fantastic player' - Farke open to Skipp return
City boss Glenn Roeder was forced into one change to his starting line-up with Gary Doherty failing to recover from a back problem. So 19-year-old Alex Pearce, who replaced Doherty at half-time in last week's 5-1 win over Colchester, kept his place in defence.
Roeder decided to recall reserve goalkeeper Matthew Gilks to the bench, where there was one more change from last week with Kieran Gibbs recalled as a substitute at the expense of Mo Camara.
Bristol City boss Gary Johnson made five changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Cardiff last week.
Jamie McCombe returned in defence after recovering from a hip problem, Lee Johnson was back in midfield after an ankle injury, and there was a recall for Scott Murray, Cole Skuse and David Noble.
There was no place in the 16 for striker Lee Trundle, midfielder Marvin Elliott or defender Tamas Vasko.
Fireworks heralded the emergence of the teams from the tunnel on a wet and very windy afternoon.
The Canaries, making only their second visit to Ashton Gate in 28 years, kicked off but it was the home team who made the first serious attempt on goal in the third minute when McAllister let fly with a powerful left-foot shot from outside the area, which Marshall was right behind.
As Norwich counter-attacked, Fotheringham sent in a cross from the right but it was too strong. The visitors kept on the attack and Huckerby won a free-kick when he was brought down five-yards outside the area, his kick being nodded back by Pearce and Dublin eventually getting in a lob from the edge of the area, but it did not trouble Basso in the Bristol goal.
Dublin did well at the other end when he dispossessed Murray inside the Norwich area, and then Pattison managed to get his head to a cross from McIndoe as the home side threatened again.
The Robins won the first corner after nine minutes, Adebola heading high and wide from the in-swinging kick by McIndoe.
With 11 minutes gone, Otsemobor and Fotheringham combined to set up an opportunity for Pattison, whose header went wide of the target, and a minute later, Otsemobor sent in another centre, met by a glancing header from Russell, bringing Basso into action again.
The rain was falling very heavily by now and a Norwich attack broke down through a misplaced pass by Bertrand, the home team breaking forward and McIndoe crossing from the left, but just too high for Adebola to make contact.
There were not many empty spaces in the ground and the home crowd almost had something to cheer in the 17th minute when Orr took a pass from Noble and struck a right-foot shot that skidded off the turf and had Marshall diving to his right to palm it away.
Norwich were playing some neat football and when Otsemobor crossed from the right, Dublin attempted to chest the ball down for Pattison but he was just a yard too far forward.
McAllister was spoken to by referee B'Urso for a bad tackle on Huckerby just inside the Norwich half, but the official refrained from using the yellow card.
A neat move involving Noble and Skuse set up one opening for Bristol, but as Johnson crossed from the left, Adebola was unable to direct his header on target.
The Canaries won a free-kick on the left-hand corner or the penalty area, but Fotheringham curled his shot straight into the arms of Basso.
The wind and rain were making life difficult and Marshall did well to gather a cross from Murray under pressure from Adebola.
The best effort of the match so far came after 26 minutes when Cureton picked out Fotheringham on the right and the skipper's perfect cross was met by a powerful header from Dublin which thumped against the crossbar.
Two minutes later, there was another excellent opening when Cureton got the better of Carey and played Huckerby in, Huckerby cutting inside on to his left foot and bringing a fine save out of Basso as the keeper dived to his right.
On the half-hour, Bertrand was shown the yellow card for a foul on Murray. McIndoe floated the free-kick into the danger area, where Pearce did well to head clear at the expense of a corner. McIndoe's flag-kick was too strong, however, and drifted out of play beyond the far post.
Norwich won their first corner when Orr challenged Pattison. Huckerby's kick was a poor one but still got as far as Carey, whose clearance eventually fell to Otsemobor, who was just off target as he tried his luck from long-range.
The home crowd were becoming impatient with their team, not helped when Murray set off on a mazy run into a dead end after Skuse had cashed in on a slip in the wet by Fotheringham.
Norwich broke quickly but, with plenty of support, Huckerby ran into trouble on the edge of the area and was crowded out.
It was Bristol's turn to rattle the woodwork six minutes before the break when McCombe took possession just outside the penalty area, side-stepped one challenge and hit the inside of the post with a curling, right-foot shot.
As the ball rebounded across the face of the goal, McIndoe followed up with a shot, from a tight angle which Marshall did well to save.
The Robins went one better after 41 minutes, however, when they took the lead through Adebola.
McIndoe forced Marshall to dive to his right to palm away a header, but the ball dropped perfectly for Adebola to knock it over the line.
There appeared to be a suspicion of offside about the goal, but the flag stayed down.
Shortly after play resumed, referee D'Urso stopped play to lecture Norwich boss Roeder on the touchline and there was an animated exchange of views.
The half-time scoreline was rather harsh on the Canaries, who had performed pretty well and probably should have been ahead before Adebola struck.
t Half-time: Bristol City 1, Norwich City 0
Both sides made one change at the interval with Carle on in place of Johnson for the hosts, and Croft replacing Russell for Norwich.
Croft took up his usual position wide on the right, with Huckerby switching to the left and Pattison reverting to a central midfield role alongside Fotheringham.
It was Pattison who got in the first shot of the second half but his right-foot effort from outside the area drifted wide.
Pearce conceded a corner in the second minute of the half, but Murray's in-swinging kick was gathered by Marshall under pressure.
There was a scare for the Canaries when a flick by Adebola had Marshall racing out to kick clear from Skuse and not all that cleanly as he sliced his clearance into touch.
Croft burst forward for the first time and delivered a cross towards Huckerby, but he was penalised for handball as he tried to bring it under control.
Croft was full of running and set up Cureton on the edge of the area, with the little striker shifting the ball on to his right foot and firing a low drive narrowly wide.
Norwich wasted a good opening eight minutes into the half when Croft picked out the overlapping Otsemobor, but the fullback's cross whistled across the six-yard box out of reach of three yellow shirts.
As Shackell struggled to deal with a bouncing ball, Noble gained possession and picked out Adebola with a well-flighted pass, but this time the flag was raised for offside.
There was much more urgency since Croft's introduction and the Canaries went close after 56 minutes when an interception by Pattison and a square pass by Huckerby set up Dublin for a powerful right-foot shot that flashed just over the angle of post and crossbar.
The visitors won a free-kick when Bertrand was fouled and as the ball was fed to Huckerby, he crossed towards the far post where Dublin just failed to get enough direction on his header.
It was the veteran's last contribution as, with nearly an hour gone, Dublin made way for Rigters.
Croft spoiled one attack with a tame shot that went wide and then sent in a cross which was just too high for three Norwich forwards.
It was all Norwich since the break and Robins skipper Carey was booked for a foul on Cureton.
The resulting free-kick from Fotheringham was rather too elaborate and as Pearce hooked the ball back across goal, Basso was able to gather well ahead of Rigters.
Marshall had so far had a very quiet second half as Norwich had the lion's share of the play, but there was still no goal to reward the 1,300 fans who had made the long trip to the West Country.
Midway through the half, Cureton, playing in his home city, came very close to providing that goal when Croft and Huckerby combined and Croft crossing towards the near post where Cureton was just crowded out as he tried to apply the finishing touch, and the ball trickled wide.
Good work between Fotheringham and Betrand led to the fullback crossing to the near post, where Rigters was just beaten to the ball.
With 20 minutes left, Norwich's hard work was rewarded when Huckerby delivered that precious equaliser. Huckerby did well to dispossess Orr on the left side of the Bristol area and steadied himself before curling in a beautiful, right-foot shot for the 47th goal of his Canary career.
The home side immediately made a change when Brooker replaced Adebola.
As Bristol pushed forward, looking to regain the lead, Shackell did well to slide in at the near post and cut out a cross from McIndoe.
Back came the Canaries and Croft had a shot well-blocked by McAllister.
There was bad news for Norwich with 15 minutes to go, however, when Rigters pulled up sharply clutching the back of his leg and immediately hobbled off. After a short delay, Roeder sent on Evans in his place.
Murray fired over the top as the Robins mounted a rare attack but in any case, the flag was up for offside.
When Fotheringham lost possession on the halfway line, Skuse knocked a dangerous long ball forward and Marshall had to race off his line to hammer clear as two home forwards raced towards him.
With 11 minutes left the home side made their final change when Sproule was sent on in place of Noble.
Brooker finally got into the action with six minutes left when he latched on to a headed clearance from Pearce and hit the ball on the bounce from 30-yards but his effort went past Marshall's right-hand post.
Pattison made a timely challenge on Carle to halt a Bristol attack down the left as the home team looked desperately for the extra two points in their promotion quest.
They threatened again when Sproule got away from Bertrand but his low centre was gathered by Marshall.
With less than two minutes left Shackell did really well to rob Murray as he broke menacingly into the Norwich area. The result was a corner, but Murray's in-swinging kick was well held by Marshall.
An additional three minutes were announced as one or two home fans began to make their way out of the stadium.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Evans tested Basso when he cut inside on to his right foot and delivered a stinging shot which the keeper just managed to hold.
Moments later, Fotheringham found Evans and he struck a low right-foot drive which Basso collected again, falling to his right.
In the final minute of time added on, there was a bitter blow for the Canaries when substitute Brooker headed home following a free-kick for a dramatic late winner.
The resulting protests from the Norwich bench saw assistant manager Clark sent from the dugout and at the final whistle, Roeder went on to the pitch to remonstrate with referee D'Urso.
t Result: Bristol City 2, Norwich City 1
t Norwich City: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Pearce, Bertrand, Huckerby, Fotheringham (C), Russell, Pattison, Cureton, Dublin.
Subs: Croft, Rigters, Gilks, Gibbs, Evans.
t Bristol City: Basso, Orr, Carey (C), McCombe, McAllister, Murray, Johnson, Skuse, McIndoe, Noble, Adebola.
Subs: Fontaine, Brooker, Carle, Weale, Sproule.