Norwich City 0, Carlisle United 2
David Cuffley SLIDESHOW: Norwich City’s hugely successful League One title-winning season ended in anti-climax when they slipped to only their third home defeat of the campaign. Carlisle United scored twice in the opening seven minutes to put a damper on the festive pre-match atmosphere.
Norwich City's hugely successful League One title-winning season ended in anti-climax when they slipped to only their third home defeat of the campaign.
Carlisle United scored twice in the opening seven minutes to put a damper on the festive pre-match atmosphere.
And in wet and chilly conditions, Paul Lambert's championship-winning side seldom looked likely to get back on terms.
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Gary Madine scored the opening goal after just 56 seconds when he fired home from Ben Marshall's pass.
And it was 2-0 soon afterwards when defender Ian Harte curled a free-kick straight into the net for what appeared to be his 19th goal of the season, although striker Jason Price seemed to be claiming the final touch.
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So City's season ended as it began, with a home defeat, though thankfully one that did not affect anything in terms of league position.
Despite the result, supporters in another packed house were in good voice at the final whistle as they saluted their team for regaining Championship status at the first attempt.
And Carlisle, worthy winners on the day, were given a fine ovation by the home crowd as they left the field.
Lambert had reverted as far as possible to his favoured first-choice side, making no fewer than seven changes to the team that began the 3-0 win at Bristol Rovers.
Wes Hoolahan made his first appearance since Good Friday after recovering from a thigh strain, and right-back Russell Martin was back after missing two games with an ankle injury. They replaced Anthony McNamee and Michael Spillane.
There were recalls for Adam Drury, Darel Russell and Korey Smith, with Michael Rose, Matthew Gill and Stephen Hughes reverting to the bench.
With Michael Nelson and Stephen Elliott ruled out by injury, Jens Berthel Askou and Oli Johnson were included in the starting eleven.
Carlisle were badly hit by injuries and lost Tom Taiwo through illness shortly before kick-off, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson replacing him.
They also welcomed back striker Joe Anyinsah to the bench after he recovered from a double hernia operation.
Before kick-off, City skipper Grant Holt was presented with the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy as player of the season, with goalkeeper Fraser Forster runner-up and defender Gary Doherty third in the supporters' poll.
There was a festive atmosphere inside the stadium on a wet afternoon, but it was suddenly silenced when Carlisle, wearing red, kicked off and went ahead inside 56 seconds.
Price sent Marshall racing away and he slipped a pass to Madine, who fired a low right-foot shot inside Forster's right-hand post.
Russell Martin was inches away from levelling when he struck a powerful low drive from outside the area just the wrong side of the post.
There was another nasty shock for City when they went two goals down in the seventh minute.
A foul by Drury gave Carlisle a free-kick wide on the right and Harte floated the ball left-footed into the area, where it appeared to go straight in for his 19th goal of the season, although striker Price appeared to claim the goal by pointing to his frizzy hair.
City should have had a goal back in the 12th minute when Russell and Chris Martin combined to put Smith clear and he went wide of 'keeper Collin, but his left-foot shot lacked power and Harte was back to clear before it crossed the line.
Askou had an opening from Lappin's corner as City threatened again but the defender completely missed his kick, Collin saving Smith's follow-up effort.
The Canaries looked shaky at the back and when Forster made a misjudgment in racing out to close down Price, the striker was left with a clear shot at goal, which Askou did well to block.
With 23 minutes gone, another mix-up almost handed Carlisle a third goal. Russell Martin tried to chest down Raven's cross to Forster at the far post, but Price nipped in first and jabbed his shot just wide.
At the other end, Russell Martin headed into the side netting from a cross by Hoolahan as City tried to find a way back into the contest.
A neat City move after 38 minutes might have provided a goal when Lappin sent a looping cross to the edge of the six-yard box but Chris Martin's header was straight at Collin.
Thirlwell was shown the yellow card three minutes before the break when he blatantly tripped Hoolahan in full flight, but the free-kick by Russell was headed clear.
t Half-time: Norwich City 0, Carlisle United 2
Less than two minutes after the break, a fine save by Collin denied City a way back into the game. Smith had a shot blocked but the rebound fell to Russell, who struck a powerful left-foot shot that Collin, diving to his right, pushed wide for a corner.
Carlisle could have had a third, however, when Bridge-Wilkinson made good progress and set up Madine, who struck a rather tame effort straight at Forster when he might have done better.
Hoolahan set off on a twisting run six minutes after the break, but just tried to beat one man too many and was blocked by Raven on the edge of the Carlisle area.
Carlisle made their first change in the 64th minute when Dobie replaced Price.
Harte almost added to Carlisle's lead when he put a free header wide from Clayton's corner.
In the 69th minute, City made their first change when Hughes replaced Lappin.
The Canaries won a free-kick on the edge of the area when Chris Martin was brought down. Martin took the kick, but his usual dead-ball accuracy deserted him and he cleared the bar by a distance.
There was another change when McNamee replaced Johnson in the 73rd minute.
Chris Martin was wildly off target with another effort after 77 minutes and it was hard to see how City could get back into the game in gloomy conditions that matched the performance.
McNamee managed a shot on target with five minutes left but straight at Collin.
Carlisle then replaced Marshall with Anyinsah.
With two minutes left, there was the final change for City when Lambert decided to swap goalkeepers, Forster departing to a huge ovation, to be replaced by Rudd.
Hoolahan curled a left-foot shot over the top in the final minute.
Carlisle then followed suit by replacing goalkeeper Collin with Gillespie.
t Result: Norwich City 0, Carlisle United 2
t Norwich City: Forster; Russell Martin, Doherty, Askou, Drury; Russell; Smith, Lappin ; Hoolahan; Chris Martin, Johnson.
Subs: Rudd (for Forster, 88), Rose, Gill, Hughes (for Lappin, 69), McVeigh, McNamee (for Johnson, 73), McDonald.
t Carlisle United: Collin; Raven, Keogh, Harte, Horwood; Clayton, Thirlwell, Bridge-Wilkinson, Marshall; Price, Madine.
Subs: Gillespie (for Collin, 90), Kavanagh, Bowman, Kane, Anyinsah (for Marshall, 85), Swinglehurst, Dobie (for Price, 64).
t Referee: Andy Penn (West Midlands)
t Attendance: 25,181
t Goals: Carlisle: Madine (1), Harte (7)
t Bookings: Carlisle: Thirlwell (42)