Norwich 3, QPR 0
David Cuffley Norwich City gave their biggest crowd of the season exactly what they wanted as they booked their place in the Championship next season with a scintillating victory over 10 man Queen’s Park Rangers.
Norwich City gave their biggest crowd of the season exactly what they wanted as they booked their place in the Championship next season with a scintillating victory over 10-man Queen's Park Rangers.
Goals from Ched Evans, skipper Mark Fotheringham and substitute Darel Russell gave the Canaries a convincing win in veteran striker Dion Dublin's farewell appearance at Carrow Road, on the day he was named player of the season.
Rangers went down to 10 men after just four minutes when defender Damion Stewart was dismissed for a shove on Evans, although it appeared goalkeeper Lee Camp may have committed the worse foul.
You may also want to watch:
Evans gave City the lead after six minutes when he volleyed in after Jamie Cureton had turned back a cross from Darren Huckerby, also possibly making his last home appearance for the Canaries.
Fotheringham made it 2-0 10 minutes into the second half when his shot, through a crowd of players, took a deflection off defender Zesh Rehman.
- 1 Paddy Davitt verdict: Wazza and City's great leap forward
- 2 'You get relegated playing the Norwich way' - Old boy Bruce on Magpies' sorry plight
- 3 Ex-City star Murphy boosts hopes of new deal
- 4 Former City loanee set for new deal at Borussia Dortmund
- 5 EFL announce revised schedule to avoid Prince Philip funeral clash
- 6 'I don't want the season to end' - City ace hitting top form
- 7 Record-breaking week continues for Canaries
- 8 Six things you might have missed after City's win at Derby
- 9 'We showed Norwich too much respect' - Rooney on Rams' reverse
- 10 Chris Goreham: No-one should question just how good City have been
Dublin and Russell were introduced as late substitutes and Russell wrapped up the victory when he floated a shot in from long range after Camp had dribbled out of his area and lost possession.
It was a perfect afternoon for Glenn Roeder's team as they completed their survival mission with a truly prominent display.
Before kick off, veteran striker Dion Dublin was presented with the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy by club chairman Roger Munby after being voted player of the season.
Midfielder Darel Russell was runner-up with goalkeeper David Marshall in third place.
But both Dublin and Russell had to be content with a place on the substitutes' bench for the final home game of the season.
Ryan Bertrand recovered from a hamstring injury to replace Mo Camara at left back, Camara having suffered from sickness during the week. That was the only change to the starting 11 from last week's home defeat by West Bromwich Albion with Kieran Gibbs retained in midfield for his last game before the end of his loan from Arsenal.
Lee Croft returned to the bench at the expense of Juan Velasco but Roeder again decided not to include a substitute keeper.
Rangers showed one change to the team who beat Charlton 1-0 last week with Michael Mancienne replacing Fitz Hall.
Goalkeeper Lee Camp, on loan at Norwich last season, was in the Rangers side and another former loan player for the Canaries, Zesh Rehman, was on the bench.
Rangers kicked off, defending the Barclay goal, on a glorious afternoon with temperatures around the 20 degree mark. There was another full house inside the ground, most of them desperate to see the Canaries get the result that would secure a place in the Championship next season.
A foul on Ephraim gave the visitors the first free-kick of the match and when it was played to Ainsworth, wide on the right, he won a corner with Blackstock heading wide from the flag kick by Rowlands.
There was a dramatic start to the afternoon when Rangers were reduced to 10 men after just four minutes, but it appeared referee Joslin showed the red card to the wrong man. Evans chased a huge goal kick from Marshall to the edge of the penalty area, where goalkeeper Camp clearly brought him down. But after awarding a free-kick the referee showed the red card to defender Stewart, who had been chasing Evans but did not appear to touch him.
It was a very lively start and the resulting free-kick from Evans was deflected off the wall for a corner.
City kept up the early pressure and with six minutes gone they took the lead when Evans scored his 10th goal of the season for the club and his fourth in successive games. Huckerby provided the chance with an excellent cross from the left, which was turned back by Cureton and took a deflection before Evans volleyed the ball into the roof of the net.
Soon after the restart, Rangers decided to replace their missing defender with Rehman, and withdrew the unlucky Ephraim from the contest.
Despite being down to 10 men, the visitors brought Marshall into action twice as he saved a long range effort from Balanta before gathering more comfortably from Rowlands.
Gibbs tried his luck from 25-yards as City hit back, but was a yard wide of the target.
After that early red card, referee Joslin showed the yellow to Connolly for a tackle from behind on Evans.
Huckerby had made a bright start and another chance seemed to be opening up as he burst into the Rangers area on the left hand side but lost control and ran the ball out of play.
Norwich threatened again when Fotheringham had a powerful shot blocked and the ball ran free to Pattison, but he pulled it across the face of the goal when he might have done better to shoot.
With 20 minutes gone, the Canaries forced another corner and Huckerby played it short to Evans, taking the return pass and letting fly with a powerful drive, but it was blocked and Rangers were able to breathe again.
An excellent move involving Evans and Cureton presented Huckerby with another half chance and, from a narrow angle, he curled a low effort just the wrong side of the post.
City were playing some excellent football and Gibbs, looking comfortable in a right sided role, set up another chance when he rolled a pass square to Evans, who was narrowly wide with his effort as he tried to tuck it first time inside Camp's left hand post.
City won a third corner when Delaney headed out a cross from Bertrand. Gibbs' in-swinging kick posed problems for Camp, but as the ball was knocked back into Cureton's path, the striker was ruled offside.
There was a narrow escape for Rangers on the half hour when Huckerby and Cureton combined to find Bertrand and, with the offside flag staying down this time, the youngster struck the foot of the post with a low drive from a narrow angle.
After dominating the first 30 minutes so completely, it was remarkable that City were leading by just the one goal.
A mistake by Bertrand gave the visitors a rare chance to break and Balanta made good headway as far as the edge of the Norwich area but sent a rather tame left foot shot the wrong side of the post.
There was a delay for treatment to Mancienne after a solid block tackle by Evans and both sides took the opportunity for a drink in front of the dugouts.
A free-kick by Mancienne reached Delaney in the Norwich area but as he headed the ball back across goal, Bertrand was on hand to knock it away.
The game had lost a little of its momentum as the interval approached with 10 man Rangers seeing a bit more of the ball without really troubling the home defence.
Evans was still looking sharp, however, and one smart piece of work with Cureton presented Fotheringham with a shooting opportunity, but the skipper's powerful drive was charged down.
Because of the drinks break, an extra three minutes were signalled at the end of the half and there were groans from the home crowd when Huckerby went down under challenge from Mancienne close to the left touchline but the referee waved play on.
In the final minute of time added on, Cureton broke clear but fired a right foot shot wide of the target rather than use Evans, who was alongside him in support.
Half-time: Norwich City 1, Queen's Park Rangers 0
Otsemobor took a knock soon after the restart when he was fouled midway into the Norwich half but decided to carry on without treatment. City were soon pushing forward again but the offside flag halted Huckerby's progress on left.
A header from Evans very nearly gave Cureton room to squeeze in a shot, but Rehman got across quickly to close him down. Mancienne conceded another corner, but Norwich could make little of it and while they were holding just a one goal lead, there was always going to be a certain edginess among the home crowd.
A foul on Huckerby gave City a free-kick close to the left corner flag and Fotheringham played it low into the penalty area, where Evans attempted to catch out Camp with a first time shot, but it was blocked.
City stepped up a gear and in the space of a few seconds, both Cureton and Evans had close range efforts blocked, but the vital second goal they were looking for came 10 minutes into the half through skipper Fotheringham, his third of the season.
A corner from the right was knocked clear to Fotheringham, just outside the Rangers' area, and his low shot through a crowd of players appeared to take a deflection off Rehman on its way past Camp.
The goal was greeted with great jubilation as the crowd began to sense their team edging towards Championship safety.
Cureton did superbly to rob Rehman out on the left but ruined his good work with a wild shot high into the crowd.
City made their first change after 63 minutes when Chadwick replaced Pattison and took up a wide right position, with Gibbs switching to the centre of midfield alongside Fotheringham. Dublin and Russell then began warming up on the touchline and the crowd began to call for Dublin in what would be his farewell appearance at Norwich.
It was all Norwich now and after Otsemobor fired over the top, there was another chance for Fotheringham. Goalkeeper Camp got into trouble after coming out of his area to whip the ball away from Cureton but then lost control and Fotheringham, attempting to float in a shot from 25-yards, planted it just past the post with the keeper scampering back.
It was tough going for Rangers and although Mahon picked out Leigertwood with a cross to the far post, the substitute's header was a weak one.
With 20 minutes left, City's seventh corner, taken by Gibbs, was headed over the top by Doherty. Then Chadwick was only inches away from getting his head to a cross from Cureton and Evans, who was truly outstanding again, sent a thunderous right foot shot flashing past Camp's right hand post.
There was another free-kick when Mancienne fouled Huckerby on the edge of the area, but Shackell was just unable to get in a header as Huckerby floated the dead ball kick towards the six-yard box.
Gibbs then brought Camp into action with a low shot from 25-yards but it lacked power and the keeper was right behind it.
Cureton was showing some nice touches and after one brilliant turn, he unselfishly tried to play Evans in for a shot but the youngster's path was blocked.
That was Cureton's last contribution as he made way for Dublin in a double substitution, with Russell replacing Gibbs.
Dublin was given a great reception and it was time for a few party pieces when Huckerby curled an audacious effort just past the post with Camp a little flatfooted.
With less than eight minutes to go, City made the game safe with a remarkable goal from Russell. Once again, Camp came racing out of his area to beat Evans to the ball but in trying to take it further up field, he lost possession to Chadwick, and Russell picked up the loose ball, skipped round the keeper and from at least 35-yards floated a left foot shot into the unguarded net.
There were five minutes left when Evans brought Camp into action again with a stinging shot that the keeper had to beat away by his left hand post.
Dublin then attempted what would have been a fantastic farewell goal when he let fly from a yard inside his own half and Camp had to scurry back to grab the shot above his head.
Rangers' miserable afternoon was just about complete when Balanta fired hopelessly over the top with two minutes to go.
In stoppage time at the end of the game, there were bookings for Evans and Rowlands after a flare up in front of the dugouts.
Result: Norwich City 3, Queen's Park Rangers 0
Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Doherty, Bertrand, Huckerby, Fotheringham, Gibbs, Pattison, Cureton, Evans. Subs:
Croft, Dublin, Chadwick, Pearce, Russell.
QPR: Camp, Mancienne, Stewart, Connolly, Delaney, Ainsworth, Mahon, Rowlands, Ephraim, Blackstock, Balanta. Subs: Crowther, Barker, Lee, Rehman, Leigertwood.
Referee: Phil Joslin (Nottinghamshire)