Norwich City 2, Doncaster Rovers 1
David Cuffley Leroy Lita struck a stoppage time winner as Norwich City staged a dramatic comeback to beat struggling Doncaster at Carrow Road. More than two minutes added time had been played when Lita fired home after being set up by a header from Antoine Sibierski.
Leroy Lita struck a stoppage time winner as Norwich City staged a dramatic comeback to beat struggling Doncaster at Carrow Road.
More than two minutes added time had been played when Lita fired home after being set up by a header from Antoine Sibierski.
Rovers, who had taken just one point from their previous eight games, looked set to snatch victory when skipper Brian Stock scored from the penalty spot after 76 minutes after Dejan Stefanovic was adjudged to have fouled Jason Price.
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It was the seventh penalty, City had conceded this season, but they were level six minutes later when Sibierski managed to divert a swerving shot from Sammy Clingan past keeper Neil Sullivan with his head.
The Canaries struggled to find the fluency of their big midweek win over Wolves and they also had five players booked, but manager Glenn Roeder will be delighted to have taken six points from two successive home games.
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City boss Roeder had the luxury of being able to name an unchanged side after the 5-2 victory over Wolves on Tuesday.
Gary Doherty kept his place in the centre of defence, but John Kennedy recovered from the ankle injury that forced him out of the side in midweek and was named among the substitutes at the expense of striker Arturo Lupoli, the only change to the 16 in midweek.
There was no sign of midfielder Mark Fotheringham, who had been struggling with a hamstring injury, nor fullback Adam Drury, also trying to shake off an ankle injury.
Doncaster, who had taken just one point from their previous league games, showed three changes to the 11 who started Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at Reading.
Into the side came Matthew Mills, Gareth Roberts and Jason Price, while Sam Hird, James O'Connor and James Hayter were relegated to the bench.
Rovers were making their first league visit to Carrow Road since 1959 and their first in any competition since an FA Cup tie in 1982.
Doncaster kicked off, defending the Barclay goal on a very blustery afternoon. In fact, they had to kick off twice because referee Penton was not satisfied with the original kick off.
City had a clear chance in only the second minute when Croft intercepted a poor pass and crossed towards Russell, but the midfielder completely missed his kick from little more than 12-yards out.
An error by Chambers enabled Lita to rob him close to the left corner flag and as Hoolahan took possession, he was fouled. Clingan took the resulting free-kick and attempted a repeat of the opening goal from Tuesday night, but this time curled his effort just over the bar.
Hoolahan was involved again after seven minutes when he found plenty of space wide on the left but curled his cross too close to keeper Sullivan, who made an easy catch.
There was a scare for Norwich after 12 minutes when a stray pass from Bertrand across the edge of his own area almost set up Price and it took a determined challenge from Stefanovic to prevent the Doncaster forward getting in a shot.
A foul by Doherty, making his 150th appearance for City, gave Rovers a free-kick when he impeded Price. But Doherty made amends when he was in the right place to head clear from the dead ball kick by Woods.
Doncaster won the first corner in the 15th minute, conceded by Stefanovic, but Marshall made an easy catch from the flag kick.
Omozusi pushed well forward in City's next attack and played a one-two with Croft but the fullback's centre, from close to the corner flag, was cut out by Doncaster skipper Stock.
Good work by Hoolahan nearly created an opening with Russell picking out Croft on the right but as he tried to go past Roberts, an unfortunate ricochet took the ball out for a goal kick.
Bertrand then found Hoolahan in the penalty area but before he could make room for a shot, Stock made another timely interception.
A long kick from Marshall was touched on by Sibierski and only half cleared, giving Russell a shooting chance and his effort took a deflection, giving the Canaries a corner. Clingan took it, Sullivan punching clear before the ball was played back to Clingan, but his cross this time landed on top of the net.
City quickly forced another corner, which Sullivan managed to palm away, but the referee had already blown for an infringement.
With more than a quarter of the match gone, nothing had been seen of Doncaster as an attacking force and all Marshall had to deal with were back passes from his team mates.
The referee produced the yellow card after 26 minutes when Clingan fouled Stock in attempting to get to a poor pass from Sibierski.
One minute later, Rovers made the first change of the afternoon when Chambers, who was hobbling, was replaced at right back by O'Connor.
O'Connor was soon into the action but the home crowd were angry when the referee penalised Russell for a foul on the substitute.
O'Connor then earned a ticking off from the referee for a foul on Hoolahan. Bertrand took the resulting free-kick, which found the head of Russell, but the ball was slightly behind him and Doncaster were able to hack it clear.
An excellent tackle by Russell and a delicate pass from Sibierski set up Lita for a shot as Norwich pressed again, but his effort squirted wide off O'Connor for a corner. Clingan's flag kick produced a bit of a scramble in the penalty area but the official eventually blew for a foul.
Roberts earned the second booking of the match for tugging a yellow shirt. Clingan took the free-kick, 10-yards outside the area, but floated it straight out of play.
Hoolahan showed good footwork before getting in a cross from the left, but Russell's header lacked power and was cut out by Mills.
City were completely dominating the contest but could not manage to find the breakthrough against a determined Doncaster defence.
There was a rare foray into City territory seven minutes before the break, but the move broke down for Doncaster thanks to a poor pass by Wilson.
Hoolahan was having a busy half, but there was frustration at the end of one twisting run when his pass to Croft was too strong and ran out for a throw in.
Two minutes before the interval, Guy managed to get the wrong side of Stefanovic and pull the ball across the six-yard box but fortunately for City, there was no one to take advantage of a rare opening.
As Doncaster became a little more confident, Woods tried his luck from long range, but his effort cleared the crossbar.
In stoppage time at the end of the half, a foul by Wilson on Hoolahan gave City a free-kick just inside the Doncaster half and Price was booked for trying to delay the kick.
Hoolahan's free-kick found the head of Doherty, getting well forward, but his effort was straight at Sullivan.
t Half-time: Norwich City 0, Doncaster Rovers 0
In the opening minute of the second half, a cross by Clingan brought an acrobatic clearance by Mills. City regained possession through Lita but he was forced wide and ran the ball out for a goal kick.
At the other end, Doherty kept his cool to make an important clearance from a through ball by Coppinger with Price waiting to pounce behind him.
In the third minute of the half, excellent work by Lita set up Sibierski and his side foot volley would have crept inside the post but for an excellent save by Sullivan, diving low to his right to palm the ball away.
Doherty had to make another clearance from a cross by Coppinger after Bertrand was caught in possession and as the visitors began the second period with a little more confidence they won a free-kick on the right, Bertrand heading clear as Coppinger floated the ball towards the penalty spot.
A neat touch by Sibierski sent Hoolahan off on a determined run which he spoiled only when his final ball to the overlapping Bertrand was just too strong.
After 55 minutes, Marshall had to dive to his right to keep out a shot from Price, who managed to turn Doherty inside the area, the home crowd were angry because Price clearly appeared to have handled.
Coppinger took the corner but Marshall was able to punch clear.
Twelve minutes into the half, Roeder made his first change and it was something of a surprise to see Doherty make way for Kennedy.
There was a real scare for Norwich on the hour when O'Connor found Coppinger on the right and the winger's cross to the near post at first eluded Marshall as Stock challenged Stefanovic, but the keeper was grateful to grab the ball at the second attempt as it rolled towards the line.
City made another change after 62 minutes when Croft was withdrawn and Bell came on, a decision that was greeted with boos from one section of the home crowd.
Omozusi was adjudged to have fouled Guy, giving Doncaster a free-kick wide on the left, which Coppinger curled in for Price to head over the top.
The visitors were growing in confidence, the longer the game went on and City were struggling to recapture the fluency of Tuesday night.
Kennedy conceded a corner as they threatened again. Stefanovic heading clear from the flag kick by Woods to concede another corner. This time, the ball was played short to Coppinger, who sent a right foot shot over the top from the corner of the penalty area.
Midway through the half, Omozusi was shown the yellow card for a push on Guy. When the free-kick came in from the left, Stefanovic won the header, but Marshall was unable to prevent the ball going out for a corner. Doncaster spoiled their dead ball opportunity, however, when they attempted a short corner routine and were promptly flagged offside.
Bell got involved for the first time when he swung in an excellent cross from the right, but Lita headed over the top when it appeared Sibierski was better placed.
The home crowd were irate when Bell was shown the yellow card for a sliding challenge on Guy and there were chants of “You're not fit to referee”.
City had another narrow scrape when Coppinger crossed from the right and Guy just failed to get on the end of it, under challenge from Omozusi.
There was real trouble for the Canaries after 76 minutes when the visitors took the lead from a penalty by Stock. Stefanovic was adjudged to have fouled Price just inside the area and the referee pointed to the spot. City protested about the decision and Stefanovic was shown the yellow card but after a short delay, Stock hammered his spot kick past Marshall.
It was the seventh penalty Norwich had conceded this season and the sixth time their opponents had been successful from the spot.
Roeder made his final change with 11 minutes left when Cureton replaced Hoolahan, giving City three strikers for the final assault.
Their next attack was spoiled, however, when Stefanovic had a wild shot from long range which flew well wide of the target.
City snatched an equaliser almost out of nothing with eight minutes to go when Sibierski scored his second goal for the club. Clingan let fly with a swerving left foot shot from the right hand edge of the penalty area but it was curling well off target when Sibierski got his head in the way and diverted it past Sullivan into the opposite corner of the net.
Doncaster made a double change with five minutes left when Byfield and Elliott replaced Price and Guy. Price was jeered by the home crowd for his part in winning the penalty.
City had suddenly come to life and Bell spoiled one move with a poor cross before Russell sent another centre whizzing across the six-yard box.
As the game reached the 90 minute mark, Sibierski set up Lita, but his shot from a tight angle was well covered by Sullivan.
There were appeals for handball in stoppage time when a shot from Russell appeared to strike Mills on the hand as he dived to block it.
More than two minutes added time had been played when Lita fired City into the lead, shooting through Sullivan's legs after he was set up by a Sibierski header. Lita was booked for removing his shirt in celebration.
t Result: Norwich City 2, Doncaster Rovers 1
t Attendance: 24,543