Stoke’s goal prolongs Norwich City’s agony

Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic collects the ball safely in a crowded penalty area. Picture: Paul Che

Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic collects the ball safely in a crowded penalty area. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City lost 1-0 to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday. From a Norwich City perspective the game was boring and the result worse.

Although Canary fans will have been cheered by the Reading v QPR result on Sunday which confirmed that both sides will be relegated, and by Spurs' late equaliser at Wigan on Saturday which deprived Wigan of two points, Charlie Adam's goal for Stoke at the beginning of the second half means that Norwich are still not mathematically safe from relegation. The wait, the uncertainty and the agony continue to haunt us.

The Canaries made three changes to the team which started against Reading last week. Ryan Bennett continued to deputise for the injured Turner, Whittaker was preferred to Garrido at full back, and Tettey started in place of Elliott Bennett. The Canaries were resplendent in their All Black away strip in front of 1,350 fans that had made the long trip from Norfolk.

Both sides started brightly, and both won an early corner. Adam's free kick cleared the Norwich crossbar, and at the other end Snodgrass headed over from Russell Martin's cross. But as the first half went on Stoke were gradually gaining the upper hand. Literally in one case as Shawcross appeared to handle Snodgrass' corner kick. Following a mistake by Tettey, Jerome was booked for a high tackle on Bunn which left both players on the ground. Fortunately the City keeper did not seem to be injured. Holt followed him into the book for a foul on Huth after 38 minutes had been played. Stoke were living up to their reputation for robust play, and just before the half time whistle former Canary Crouch was booked for a foul on Tettey which left the City midfielder hobbling.

Stoke scored in the first minute of the second half with a typical route one goal. Crouch headed on a long clearance, and as Jerome battled with Bassong for the ball Adam was left free to beat Bunn and score. The same player almost added a second goal moments later. Crouch really should have added a second goal on 62 minutes but completely miskicked after good work by Adam. Full marks to Tettey for harassing him all the way. Three minutes later Hoolahan came on in place of Tettey, and with 15 minutes remaining Elliott Bennett replaced Snodgrass. Holt was continuing his personal battle with Huth, and the referee eventually spoke to both players at some length.

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Stoke were still firmly in the ascendancy and Crouch missed yet another chance when he shot over the bar, although the flag would probably have ruled out any goal had he scored. With four minutes remaining Pilkington replaced Bassong, who had appeared to be limping throughout the second half. There was just time for Johnson to be booked in the final minute after a dispute over a dropped ball, and for Kamara to head over the bar in stoppage time.

So all in all not a good day for the Canaries. Not a good performance and no shots on goal. Only a few headers to test Stoke's keeper and most of those cleared the bar with ease. No points in the bag, and still the nagging fear of relegation has not yet been finally banished.

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