Norwich City 1, Plymouth Argyle 0

David Cuffley Striker David Mooney scored for the second successive game, producing the goal that lifted Norwich City out of the bottom three in the Championship table with a vital victory over Plymouth Argyle.

David Cuffley

Striker David Mooney scored for the second successive game, producing the goal that lifted Norwich City out of the bottom three in the Championship table with a vital victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Mooney, on loan from Reading, headed home after 53 minutes after Gary Doherty had nodded back a corner from Sammy Clingan.

The goal completed the Canaries' first double of the season but, more importantly, it was the third victory in four matches for Bryan Gunn's team as they continue their battled against relegation.

It was only the second time this season that City had won two matches in a row and the final whistle was greeted with jubilation among the home crowd.

There were just two black marks for City with the loss of forward Wes Hoolahan with what appeared to be an ankle injury just before half-time, and then the sending-off of midfielder Darel Russell in stoppage time at the end of the match for a second yellow card after a foul on Plymouth captain Karl Duguid, with whom he had been having something of a battle all afternoon.

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City boss Gunn was able to name an unchanged 11 and the same five substitutes from Tuesday's 2-0 win over Cardiff.

Defender Jason Shackell recovered from the hamstring problem which forced him off at half-time in the midweek game, so Adrian Leijer returned to the bench after his 45 minutes of action four days ago.

Striker Cody McDonald, who scored on his debut as a late substitute against Cardiff, was once again the one striker on the bench with Carl Cort still sidelined after suffering a reaction to playing three games in eight days the previous week.

Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock made three changes after the 1-0 defeat at Swansea on Tuesday.

Chris Barker returned at left back after missing two matches for family reasons.

Central defender Craig Cathcart, on loan from Manchester United, passed a fitness test on a groin injury and leading scorer Paul Gallagher, on loan from Blackburn, recovered from a hamstring injury.

Those three players replaced Gary Sawyer, Krisztian Timar and Craig Noone.

Both teams went into their own huddle before City kicked off, defending the Barclay goal.

Norwich attacked down the right with Croft, Otsemobor and Gow exchanging passes before Croft won the first corner of the afternoon. Clingan took it but it was a poor one and Seip was able to volley clear before the ball reached the near post.

As Plymouth pushed forward for the first time, Doherty managed to get a foot in to clear a cross from Gray, but the linesman was already flagging for offside.

City appeared to have won another corner when Croft's centre went out off Judge, but to the bewilderment of the home side, referee Graham awarded a goal kick.

The first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to Seip in the seventh minute when he tugged the shirt of Gow after the striker turned neatly onto a pass from Otsemobor. The foul led to a free-kick on the corner of the Plymouth area which Hoolahan took left footed but curled into the crowd.

A Plymouth free-kick on the halfway line posed problems for Norwich and when Doherty headed clear, Duguid had a first time volley blocked before the hosts could get the ball away. City switched quickly to the attack and Russell had a shot blocked by team-mate Mooney before Hoolahan created space for a low drive which was also blocked.

The home crowd were annoyed with another decision after 11 minutes when Croft's attempt to cross appeared to be deflected by Barker for a corner, but once again a goal kick was awarded.

Plymouth won a free-kick when Croft fouled Judge but Gallagher's dead ball kick was a poor one and Russell headed clear.

With a quarter of an hour gone, Clingan took a pass from Bertrand and made enough space for a right-foot shot from 25 yards but it lacked the power to trouble goalkeeper Larrieu.

As the visitors went forward again, Barnes found Gallagher on the right but his cross was an awful one and dropped behind the goal by some distance.

With 19 minutes gone, Norwich won another corner when Barker cut out a cross by Otsemobor and Clingan curled the kick towards Doherty. His header was cleared as far as Hoolahan, who miscued with a left-foot shot, Shackell reacting quickly in an attempt to divert the ball goalwards but putting it just past the post.

It had been a fairly subdued opening quarter to such an important game. On a dull afternoon at Carrow Road it was rather quiet when compared with Tuesday night's excitement.

Referee Graham held up play so that Barnes could be treated after taking a knock a few yards outside the Norwich area. He was given treatment on the touchline while Plymouth continued temporarily with 10 men.

Croft very nearly provided the chance for Mooney to break the deadlock when he curled a pass into the danger area but it was just out of reach of the striker.

With 26 minutes gone, City produced their best effort so far when Mooney found Hoolahan and he played a delightful reverse pass into the path of Gow, whose left-foot shot went across the face of the goal but just the wrong side of the post.

Suddenly there was more noise inside the stadium as the Canaries forced a couple of corners in quick succession.

Shackell got his head to the second flag kick by Clingan but Plymouth were able to get the ball away and Norwich had not really taken advantage of their deadball opportunities up to now.

With half an hour gone, City won their fifth corner when Gow's cross was cut out. Clingan's kick was headed away for another corner on the opposite side, which he ran across to take. Barnes, by now back on the field, was the man to head clear on this occasion.

Gow was producing some nice touches again and after taking possession from an Otsemobor throw, he turned neatly but his left foot shot drifted off target.

Plymouth had yet to register a shot on or off target but were defending fairly solidly and City's own attempts on goal had been limited to just a handful, with only Clingan's effort forcing the keeper into action.

Cathcart was penalised for dangerous kicking against Gow, giving Norwich a free-kick just inside the Plymouth half. Clingan aimed it as usual towards Doherty, whose header went across the edge of the six-yard box but was easily cleared. Croft attacked again on the right and his cross was only just out of reach of Mooney as the striker slid into the six-yard box.

Mackie, who had scored a spectacular goal against Reading the previous week, wriggled his way to the edge of the City area six minutes before the break and his shot took a ricochet off Otsemobor, forcing Marshall to dash out and grab the loose ball under pressure from Barnes. It was as dangerous as anything Plymouth had managed to produce in the whole of the first half.

Three minutes before the break, Doherty was booked for bringing down Barnes as the striker tried to turn away from him 10-yards outside the area. The initial free-kick from Gallagher was blocked but the same player managed to find Gray on the right moments later and full back should have done better than shoot into the side netting.

In the final minute of the half, Mooney squandered a reasonable opportunity when a cross by Otsemobor reached him just beyond the far post but he snatched at a left foot shot and fired over the top.

With two minutes of stoppage time added on, there was anger in the home crowd when Hoolahan was fouled by Fletcher but the referee played the advantage and when City lost possession, Plymouth broke through Gallagher, whose cross was headed away by Otsemobor.

Otsemobor then went forward purposefully but over hit an attempted cross from a tight angle with several teammates waiting in the penalty area.

Hoolahan was still in trouble and needed attention before hobbling back into the action seconds before the half-time whistle.

t Half-time: Norwich City 0, Plymouth Argyle 0

Hoolahan did not reappear for the second half after suffering that injury and Carney was sent on in his place.

Just six seconds into the half, Plymouth at last produced their first shot on target when Gallagher tested Marshall with a powerful long range effort which the keeper was unable to hold at the first attempt.

As Norwich hit back, a cross by Mooney whizzed across the face of the goal and as they kept attacking, Croft found Mooney on the right hand edge of the penalty area but he struck a poor shot into the crowd.

There was fresh urgency about both teams after the break and after Clingan had a shot blocked by Fletcher, the visitors broke quickly and Shackell had to concede a corner when he cut out a cross by Duguid.

The corner, taken from the left, almost caught Marshall by surprise at the near post and the ball was only half cleared to Judge, who had a powerful shot blocked.

But with 53 minutes gone, City's seventh corner of the afternoon finally brought the goal they were looking for.

Clingan took the kick from the left, Doherty headed the ball back powerfully and Mooney arrived to head home for his second goal in successive games.

It was just the lift Norwich needed and Doherty came close to making it 2-0 when his header from a Clingan free-kick only just cleared the bar.

Moments later, Gow moved smartly onto a pass from Carney and struck a first time left foot shot across the face of the goal but just the wrong side of the post.

The Canaries were certainly well worth their lead as despite showing more urgency after the break, Plymouth were distinctly second best.

Gow was very lively and after escaping his marker just inside the penalty area, he slipped the ball to Mooney who brought Larrieu into action with a shot on the turn.

City were really buzzing now and Croft let fly with a stinging right foot shot which Larrieu rather awkwardly diverted over the top for a corner. The keeper was more composed, however, when he jumped to gather the flag kick from Clingan.

Plymouth made their first change after 62 minutes when Fallon was sent on in place of Barnes.

Otsemobor had been getting forward to good effect and he produced one storming run deep into opposing territory, even managing to keep going when he was fouled, and let fly with a venomous shot which, sadly, flew wide and did not match the approach work. Russell was shown the yellow card after a foul on Judge, though the booking was more for dissent after he disputed the decision with referee Graham. The referee had a quiet word with Gray after he fouled Carney on the halfway line but this time there was no booking, rather to the annoyance of the home fans.

A cross field ball by Judge almost provided Gallagher with space to shoot on the edge of the area and Otsemobor produced an excellent interception to deny him.

Fallon poked a shot just past the post in another attack just to remind the Canaries that they were not home and dry yet.

With 20 minutes to go there was another change when Patterson replaced Barker for the visitors.

Patterson soon made his mark with a foul on Gow to give Norwich a free-kick five yards into the Plymouth half. Clingan took it and the ball reached Carney after a flick by Mooney and his cross to the edge of the six-yard box found the head of Mooney once again, but this time the keeper was in the right place to make the save.

Shackell was left hobbling after a brave headed clearance from a cross by Judge but the big defender battled on and had once again looked very solid alongside Doherty.

There were one or two niggles on the field and the official had to step in to stop a running argument between Croft and Duguid.

Duguid had been on the ground seconds earlier after a challenge by Russell and next it was Gray's turn to call for the physio when he was caught awkwardly by a challenge by Carney. There was a lengthy delay and Gray hobbled to the touchline very gingerly before play resumed with Plymouth again down to 10 men.

Gray returned to the field but was clearly in some discomfort.

With six minutes to go, Gow, who had produced another fine performance made way for Norwich's second substitute, McDonald. At the same time Plymouth replaced Judge with Noone.

McDonald was soon posing problems and he forced Cathcart to concede a free-kick midway into the Plymouth half. City were doing their best to keep possession in their opponents' half and one neat passing move produced a corner when Mooney had a shot deflected wide. Norwich were in no hurry to take the kick as the match moved into the final minute and Croft began rolling the ball under his heel by the corner flag before he was fouled. City kept pressing from the free-kick and Croft earned a corner when his low cross was cut out.

Russell and Duguid had been having a running battle and as the game entered four minutes of stoppage time, City were reduced to 10 men when Russell was shown a second yellow card for bringing down Duguid well inside the Norwich half.

After Russell's red card departure, City made their final change with Leijer sent on for Croft to give them an extra defender.

As the seconds ticked away, McDonald very nearly scored a magnificent goal for City when he shrugged off two challenges before striking a powerful right foot shot just over the bar.

t Result: Norwich City 1, Plymouth Argyle 0