Norwich City 0, Sheffield Wednesday 1
Jonathan Redhead An own goal by Jon Otsemobor early in the second half was enough to keep Norwich City firmly in relegation trouble as they slipped to a sorry home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon.
An own goal by Jon Otsemobor early in the second half was enough to keep Norwich City firmly in relegation trouble as they slipped to a sorry home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon.
The unlucky City right back could only divert Jermaine Johnson's effort past David Marshall on 48 minutes to hand the visitors all three points.
City thought they had equalised through David Mooney with seven minutes remaining but his goal was chalked off for a foul on goalkeeper Lee Grant.
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But a point would have been barely deserved for a City side that played against 10 men for the last few minutes after Tommy Spurr was sent off for two yellow card offences.
City boss Bryan Gunn made one change to the team which performed so well at Birmingham City a fortnight ago.
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Fit again Lee Croft returned to the side after an ankle injury at the expense of Alan Lee.
That meant Alan Gow and David Mooney resumed their partnership up front with David Carney on the left wing after his midweek trip to Australia for a World Cup qualifier.
For Sheffield Wednesday, who had beaten Norwich in each of their previous seven meetings, former City transfer target Luke Varney partnered ex-England international Francis Jeffers up front.
The game started at a furious pace and it was the visitors who were first to threaten. The ball broke to Jermaine Johnson and his low cross flashed across the goal before Ryan Bertrand cleared the ball.
The Owls forced the first corner of the game after just two minutes. It was taken short but cleared by the City defence. The Canaries broke with Gow and he passed to Carney but he overran the ball and it went through to goalkeeper Lee Grant.
Wednesday were on the front foot and forced another corner but it came to nothing as goalkeeper David Marshall, making his 100th City appearance, was fouled.
The furious pace continued and from Richard Wood's long clearance in the sixth minute, Marcus Tudgay fired in a low shot from the right edge of the box but Marshall saved low down to his right.
In the ninth minute Wednesday did have the ball in the net went Varney crashed home from 12-yards, but the whistle had already gone for hand ball against the Owls' forward.
City finally put together a decent attack in the 12th minute when Jon Otsemobor beat two defenders and made his way into the Wednesday box but he delayed his cross and the visitors were able to clear. The ball broke to Sammy Clingan on the edge of the box but his left foot shot was high and wide.
A minute later Mooney almost gave City the lead after running onto Gow's flick but as he ran clean through he could only fire his shot just wide of the post and into the side netting.
Moments later City had the ball again and this time Gow crossed the ball low into the box and Mooney completely missed his kick.
In the 14th minute it was Wednesday's turn to attack again and after an excellent dummy on the edge of the City box, Jeffers could only find David Marshall with his low cross.
The capacity crowd were on their feet after 17 minutes when Carney's cross from the left was controlled by Wood on the six-yard line but the ball appeared to hit his hand, however, referee Mike Russell waved away the appeals.
In an end to end game Wednesday went the closest to opening the scoring after more excellent play by their strikers. The ball fell to Tudgay on the edge of the box and he forced Marshall into a fine save low to his right from his left foot volley as City struggled to clear their lines.
From the resulting corner, Wednesday defender Richard Hinds climbed highest but his downward header was cleared inside the six-yard box by Clingan.
Midfielder Darren Potter was next to go close for Wednesday when his fizzing half volley from 30-yards out missed the top corner by just a few inches from Shaun McAllister's clever set up.
The away side continued to press and Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell almost presented them with a chance in the 25th minute when they got in each others way on the edge of their own box, but Doherty managed to clear.
City were struggling to cope with the Wednesday front line as Tudgay on the right wing was playing as almost a third striker while Potter was dominating in the middle of midfield.
On the half hour mark Bertrand brought down Jeffers on the corner on his own box and Tommy Spurr's drilled free-kick was deflected behind for a corner. Marshall came out to comfortably collect Potter's flag kick.
City forced their first corner in the 33rd minute but Simon Lappin's kick from the left was cleared.
A minute later City earned a corner from the right and nearly opened the scoring. From another Lappin kick, Shackell out jumped Wood at the far post but Grant pulled off a fine reaction save to stop him scoring from six-yards out. The game was providing excellent entertainment and next it was Croft who ran free down the right but there was no one in the box to get on the end of his low cross.
In the 40th minute he found himself in space on the right hand side once more, but he put in a poor cross which drifted over the bar and behind for a goal kick. Wednesday were still posing a threat and in the 43rd minute Varney won the ball from Otsemobor as the City defender dallied in his own half, Varney's cross was only half cleared and when Jeffers nodded the ball on, Marshall had to race from his line to prevent Tudgay from scoring from six-yards out.
In the 44th minute City had the ideal opportunity to create a chance to grab the lead before half-time when Croft was fouled by Spurr near the right hand corner flag. However, Lappin wasted the set piece when he over hit his cross and it bounced to safety.
The final effort of the half belonged to the impressive Wednesday when right back Lewis Buxton ran across the face of the Norwich defence but his left foot shot from the edge of the box drifted wide.
It was the final action of an entertaining half.
t Half-time: Norwich City 0, Sheffield Wednesday 0
Neither side made a change at half-time as City went in search of their third straight home victory.
But it was Wednesday who shocked a sell out Carrow Road after 48 minutes. Johnson easily outstripped Croft on the left wing and as he cut into the box he fired in a right foot shot towards goal. The ball flicked off Otsemobor and flew into the net past Marshall for what will probably go down as an own goal against the unfortunate City defender.
It was a massive blow for City and rocked both players and the fans.
It could have got even worse for the home side in the 52nd minute when Jeffers got on the end of a long punt but could only flick the ball into Marshall's hands from the penalty spot.
City recovered and forced a corner when Carney's shot was blocked while the referee turned down Gow's appeal for a penalty in the build up.
Wednesday cleared the corner and repeated the trick a minute later when City forced another.
The pace of the game dropped for the first time as City struggled to force any pressure and Doherty's blushes were spared on the hour mark when he sliced the ball across his area but the offside flag had already been raised against Jeffers.
On 61 minutes Mooney broke free down the right but his cross just eluded the outstretched boot of Carney.
In the 67th minute Varney turned cleverly in the box after a neat flick by Jeffers but the ball was deflected over the crossbar for a Wednesday corner.
City managed to clear and when the ball went out of play they made their first substitution after 68 minutes when Lee came on in place of Croft.
That meant Gow moved to the left wing and Carney went over to the right as Lee made his home debut.
Lee's first action was to get a talking to from the referee for a foul on Wood.
The game was fast slipping away from City as they were barely able to keep possession in the Wednesday half.
However, on 74 minutes Gow did give some glimpse of what he might be able to do when he beat two defenders on the edge of the Wednesday box before firing a right foot shot over the bar.
The City bench were up on their feet a minute later when Lee went down in a heap after a strong challenge from Buxton which the referee let go.
The game threatened to erupt on 78 minutes when a fight broke out in the Wednesday penalty area. After plenty of scuffling and pushing and shoving between a dozen players, calm was restored and the referee booked both Mooney and Wood for their part in the incident.
With nine minutes left, Gunn made his final two substitutions with Cody McDonald coming on for Gow and Korey Smith coming on to make his debut in place of Carney. Wednesday responded with a substitution of their own as Akpo Sodje came on for Jeffers.
After 83 minutes City thought they had forced an equaliser when Lee headed the ball across the six-yard box and Mooney bundled it home but as the City players ran off to celebrate the referee blew for a free-kick for a foul on the keeper after advice from one of his assistants. After 86 minutes Spurr was booked for a crude challenge on Smith.
After 88 minutes Wednesday made their second change with Mark Beevers replacing Johnson.
A minute later however, they had to reorganise as Spurr was sent off for a second yellow card after another crude challenge on McDonald.
As the game entered injury time, City were desperately searching for an equaliser, but despite plenty of crosses, Wednesday held firm and City could not create a noteworthy chance even with Doherty playing as an extra centre forward.
t Result: Norwich City 0, Sheffield Wednesday 1
t MoM: Clingan
t Attendance: 25,385