Norwich 2, Burnley 0
David Cuffley Norwich City started and finished in style as they recorded a very valuable victory over Burnley at Carrow Road this afternoon, with veteran Dion Dublin scoring after just one minute and one second and substitute Ched Evans completing the win in the final minutes.
Norwich City started and finished in style as they recorded a very valuable victory over Burnley at Carrow Road this afternoon.
Veteran Dion Dublin opened the scoring after just one minute and one second when he side-footed home from a Darren Huckerby cross.
But it took the Canaries until the very last minute to wrap up the three Championship points when substitute Ched Evans scored his first goal for eight weeks following another Huckerby pass.
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The margin of victory should have been greater as Norwich squandered numerous chances between the two goals, Jamie Cureton missing two of them in the second half.
In the end, City had to be grateful for an important save by goalkeeper David Marshall midway through the second half to deny Kyle Lafferty.
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The result should just about guarantee safety for the Canaries and will send them into next week's derby at Ipswich in good heart.
City boss Glenn Roeder named an unchanged starting 11 from last week's 2-1 defeat at Bristol City, but there were two changes on the bench.
Roeder decided to go without a substitute goalkeeper for the second home game in a row, so Matthew Gilks dropped out, as did Dutch striker Maceo Rigters, ruled out by a torn hamstring.
Defender Gary Doherty, who had recovered from a back injury, had to settle for a place on the bench, while full back Mo Camara also returned as a substitute.
Burnley named an unchanged side from the team who beat Barnsley 2-1 last week. The substitutes included ex-Canary striker Ade Akinbiyi and former England international Andrew Cole.
Before kick-off, striker Jamie Cureton received the Anglian player of the month award for March after scoring a hat-trick in the previous home game against Colchester.
City kicked off, attacking the Barclay goal, and immediately won a free-kick when Elliott fouled Bertrand.
There was a perfect start for the Canaries when, with just one minute gone, Dublin gave them the lead with his ninth goal of the season.
Dublin started the move with an excellent ball to Cureton on the right, and although Cureton's low cross was cut out by Caldwell, Huckerby took up possession and crossed low into the six-yard box where Dublin side-footed home. The goal was officially timed at one minute one second and it was just the start Norwich were looking for.
Another cross from Huckerby, operating on the right, caused panic in the visitors defence and forced Alexander to head the ball out for a corner. Huckerby's flag kick was punched away by keeper Jensen, but still City pressed and Pattison made room for a right foot shot which was blocked by Caldwell.
Burnley had yet to threaten and Fotheringham did some neat tidying up to prevent Blake making progress wide on the left.
A cross from Elliott provided one half chance for the visitors but the header from McCann was way off target, before Lafferty brought Marshall into action with a low drive which he gathered by his left hand post.
Another excellent pass from Dublin sent the lively Huckerby racing away again and his cross to the far post was again headed out by Alexander for a corner. Before the kick could be taken, Russell and McCann were given a quiet word by the referee for jostling at the near post. Huckerby's in-swinging kick almost provided Pearce with an opening, but he was penalised for a high challenge on Jensen.
It was all Norwich and Jensen needed attention moments later as he dived out to foil Russell as the midfielder moved onto a Cureton pass, but it was at the expense of a third corner for Norwich.
While play was held up, Jensen had to change his shirt, presumably because of blood stains.
When Huckerby's kick was finally taken, it was headed clear by Gudjonsson and as Huckerby crossed again into the area, Jensen made an easy catch.
Another delightful touch by Dublin presented Russell with a great opportunity after 18 minutes but he miscued with a left foot shot and Jensen collected comfortably.
Elliott was busy for Burnley and there was a narrow escape for the Canaries when his cross towards the six-yard box was sliced over the bar by Pearce as he attempted to clear.
Lafferty fired narrowly wide moments later as the visitors threatened again.
Back came Norwich and Dublin volleyed wide from a centre by Huckerby.
A foul by Caldwell on Dublin gave the Canaries a free-kick 15-yards into the Burnley half, but although Fotheringham aimed for the head of Pearce, Jensen was well placed to make a clean catch.
Dublin was having an excellent afternoon and was next seen in his own penalty area, heading clear from a free-kick by Alexander, awarded for a foul by Fotheringham. A foul by Gudjonsson on Russell gave City another free-kick opportunity about 30-yards out. Cureton touched the ball sideways to Otsemobor, but his powerful shot was blocked by the advancing O'Connor.
With 27 minutes gone, Lafferty set up Gudjonsson, who struck a powerful shot from 25-yards and Marshall had to dive to his right to push it round the post. It was the closest Burnley had come to an equaliser, and moments later, Shackell had to concede a corner under pressure from O'Connor. Elliott's flag kick was a poor one, however, and Bertrand intercepted to set Norwich on the attack again.
A foul by Gudjonsson on Otsemobor gave City a free-kick on the half hour. Huckerby aimed it towards Pearce, but the defender's header was blocked by Lafferty, who chested it down and was able to clear.
As Burnley broke, a shot from McCann appeared to go straight out but a corner was awarded and Shackell did some solid defensive work to get the ball away following Blake's kick.
Burnley were pushing forward whenever they could and Blake spoiled a useful break with a cross straight into Marshall's arms. At the other end, Jensen had to punch clear from a Huckerby cross as City counterattacked. Huckerby and Pattison had swapped wings as the game entered the last 10 minutes of the half with City looking to extend their lead, but they were still under their share of pressure and Marshall had to race out to kick clear as Elliott chased a long through ball.
Burnley had forced six corners so far and the latest led to a game of head tennis in the Norwich area before Gudjonsson sent a wild effort over the bar.
Huckerby brought the home crowd back to life six minutes before the break when he cut in from the left touchline and struck a powerful right foot shot which just went past the angle of post and crossbar.
When Otsemobor slipped over just inside the Norwich half, City were almost punished as Blake raced away and picked out Lafferty, but the big striker fired the wrong side of the post when he might have done better.
Referee Booth showed the yellow card for the first time after 41 minutes when Alexander chopped down Huckerby just inside the Burnley half.
In the final minute of the half, City won a free-kick five-yards outside the Burnley area when Dublin was fouled, but Cureton wasted it by blazing high over the crossbar.
The home crowd were none too pleased when only two minutes of added time were announced, considering the long delay earlier on when Jensen received treatment. In stoppage time, Fotheringham needed attention when he went down clutching his left ankle, but he was able to resume after a short delay.
Half-time: Norwich City 1, Burnley 0
There were no changes to either side at the break and Huckerby mounted City's first attack of the second half with a forward run before picking out Otsemobor, but the full-back's long range shot lacked the power to trouble Jensen.
Bertrand was busy at both ends of the field, producing some excellent tidying up to prevent Elliott of a cross field ball from Blake, and then joining the attack when he moved onto Huckerby's pass and his low centre was cut out by Caldwell.
There was an angry reaction from Blake and the Burnley fans when the striker tried to power his way through the home rearguard and crashed to earth under the combined challenge of Pearce and Shackell.
Some determined work by Russell in the Burnley area almost created an opening for Pattison but he chose a sideways pass to Fotheringham and the skipper was crowded out as he tried to make room for a shot.
Blake was still protesting about the lack of a free-kick and he was shown the yellow card by referee Booth six minutes into the half.
One minute later, City missed a golden opportunity to stretch their lead when good work by Pattison set up an opening for Cureton, but he screwed his shot hopelessly wide of the target. Roeder was clearly angered by Cureton's miss, to judge from his reaction on the touchline.
Bertrand needed treatment when he was caught by a late challenge by Elliott, who became the next Burnley player to be shown the yellow card.
With 57 minutes gone Huckerby was close to making it 2-0 after another burst of speed into the Burnley area but, from a similar position in which he scored last week, he curled his effort wide of the post.
Burnley manager Coyle made his first change with nearly an hour played when he sent on Cole in place of McCann in a bid to get his side back into the game.
There was almost a scare for Norwich when Shackell failed to connect cleanly with a long kick up field by Jensen, but Marshall came out to smother the danger as Lafferty closed in.
More good work by Pattison created another opening for Cureton, but the striker headed over the top from the midfielder's cross, leaving Roeder shaking his head again.
Cureton was still searching for his 200th goal in English club football, but it wasn't going to come today as, with 65 minutes gone, he was replaced by Evans.
City were well on top at this stage and after Shackell headed wide from an assist by Pearce, Russell had a powerful shot blocked by teammate Dublin.
Pattison was next to try his luck but his weak shot was easily gathered by Jensen and, as Burnley broke, they really should have equalised. Lafferty was presented with a one against one opportunity against Marshall and, as the flag stayed down, the keeper managed to stick out his left hand and divert Lafferty's shot past the post.
Midway through the half, the visitors made a second change with Mahon replacing Gudjonsson.
Evans' first involvement was to blast an ambitious free-kick straight into the Burnley wall after Dublin was fouled by Unsworth.
There were appeals for handball when a shot by Huckerby was blocked in the Burnley area and as the ball came back to him his next effort rebounded out of play off Evans.
Pattison was enjoying an excellent second half despite playing in a less familiar role and he was inches away from getting on the end of a Huckerby cross as Norwich pressed again. Huckerby was determined to get on the score sheet but sent another curling shot wide of the target when a cross may have been the better option.
Burnley made their third and final change after 76 minutes when former Norwich man Akinbiyi was sent on in place of Blake, giving the visitors extra physical presence in attack.
With 10 minutes to go, there was another opening for City when Otsemobor's cross rebounded off Alexander, but Evans put his left foot shot the wrong side of the post.
Burnley wasted a good opening with seven minutes left when Elliott made good headway into Norwich territory and played the ball wide to Alexander, but the full-back's cross went straight out of play behind the goal with three teammates waiting in the area.
A back pass from Russell was very nearly a costly one for Norwich, falling short of Marshall and leaving the keeper no choice but the dash out and hammer the ball clear from Akinbiyi.
As City switched to the attack, Pattison slipped as he tried to take advantage of a pass by Evans and another chance went begging.
Still Burnley were looking to get on terms and Marshall did well to gather an awkward cross from Harley at the second attempt.
A dreadful final pass by O'Connor ruined another opening for Burnley with just over two minutes to go when he had plenty of teammates in support. Then Elliott fired narrowly wide of Marshall's right hand post.
With a minute left, Doherty replaced Dublin for Norwich and went straight into an attacking position.
With about 10 seconds remaining of normal time, Evans wrapped up the points when he fired home left footed from a tight angle after collecting a pass from Huckerby. It was his first goal for eight weeks.
Result: Norwich City 2, Burnley 0
Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Pearce, Bertrand, Huckerby, Russell, Fotheringham, Pattison, Dublin, Cureton.
Subs: Croft, Camara, Gibbs, Doherty, Evans.
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Unsworth, Harley, Elliott, James O'Connor, Gudjonsson, McCann, Lafferty, Blake.
Subs: Kiraly, Akinbiyi, Randall, Mahon, Cole.
Referee: Russell Booth (Nottinghamshire)