Wolves 2, Norwich 0
DAVID CUFFLEY Skipper Jason Shackell and French midfielder Julien Brellier were both sent off as Norwich City suffered a disastrous afternoon at Molineux.A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Wolves, which could have been a great deal heavier was made even worse for City’s travelling fans by the sight of their team reduced to nine men.
Skipper Jason Shackell and French midfielder Julien Brellier were both sent off as Norwich City suffered a disastrous afternoon at Molineux.
A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Wolves, which could have been a great deal heavier was made even worse for City's travelling fans by the sight of their team reduced to nine men.
Shackell was first to go after 62 minutes for a high challenge on Karl Henry. Brellier departed 15 minutes from time for two yellow cards in quick succession, first fouling Stephen Elliott and then kicking the ball away.
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Wolves had scored twice in the space of 11 minutes in the first half, Kevin Foley firing in a powerful right foot shot after 23 minutes and Andy Keogh repeating the dose 11 minutes later.
It was something of a miracle that the score was only 2-0, Wolves totally dominating and winning 17 corners to Norwich's one. City also took 81 minutes to produce a shot on goal after a performance which was even worse than their defeat by Plymouth and Burnley at the same stage last season and just as ominous.
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City boss Peter Grant made four changes to the starting line-up from Thursday's 2-0 defeat at Charlton, three of them enforced.
With Dion Dublin starting a three match ban after his sending off at The Valley, Jason Shackell returned in the centre of defence and regained the captain's armband.
Left back Adam Drury was ruled out by a back injury, with Ian Murray recalled more than three weeks after his last appearance at Rochdale.
David Strihavka, who scored in last week's win over Crystal Palace, started his first competitive game for the club with Chris Brown dropping to the bench.
Jamie Cureton returned to partner Strihavka in attack, while Luke Chadwick was sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Wolves made three changes to the side beaten 1-0 at home by Hull on Tuesday night.
There was a surprise with summer signing Freddy Eastwood left on the bench, while defenders Darren Ward and Neill Collins were also missing.
Jody Craddock , who scored an injury time equaliser in the corresponding fixture last season, was recalled from a loan spell at Stoke and returned to the defence. Michael Gray and Stephen Elliott also returned to the side.
The home side kicked off but it was City who won the first free-kick on the halfway line when Otsemobor was fouled by Elliott. The ball was played to Doherty but his through ball was too strong and goalkeeper Hennessey gathered it easily.
Wolves threatened down the right in their first attack and Kightly's cross beyond the far post was a little too strong for Elliott, who tried to turn it back across goal but only succeeded in knocking it behind for a goal kick.
City were operating with Murray at left back, Lappin in central midfield with Brellier and Russell on the right hand side.
As Wolves pushed forward again, Foley swung in a dangerous cross and with Marshall hesitating, they were rather fortunate that it ran across the face of the goal with no one able to apply the finishing touch.
With five minutes gone, Keogh set up Kightly in a good position and he went round Marshall, but pulled his effort into the side netting.
The home side won the first corner in the seventh minute and Russell got up to head clear at the near post, but it was certainly a lively opening from the home side and City had their work cut out at the back.
Keogh and Kightly were proving quite a handful and with 11 minutes gone, Kightly got away from Murray and crossed towards the near post, where Elliott glanced a first time volley narrowly wide.
Henry spoiled what looked like a promising move after a pass from Kightly when he floated a high ball into the area and Marshall made an easy catch.
Brellier earned a ticking off from referee Bennett for a foul on Elliott but Wolves were soon back on the attack, with Doherty heading clear from a cross by Gray at the expense of a corner.
Strihavka got back to head clear from Gray's flag kick, but the ball quickly found its way back to Gray, who brought Marshall into action with a teasing cross.
Murray was kept busy by Kightly but did well to cut out another cross from the winger at the expense of another corner.
It was Murray who managed to clear the corner from Gray and in trying to bring the ball out of defence, he suffered a knock when he was fouled by Kightly.
Wolves' domination was underlined by the fact that they won their fifth corner midway through the half and although Kightly's kicked cleared everyone in the penalty area, the home crowd did not have to wait long for the opening goal.
Russell managed to get his head to a cross from the left but his clearance fell to Foley, who advanced a couple of yards, side stepped one challenge and beat Marshall from the edge of the area with a cracking right foot shot.
The goal came as no great surprise, for City had hardly been able to venture beyond the halfway line.
As they tried to hit back, Strihavka made enough space to cross from the right but Olofinjana was well placed to head clear.
With 28 minutes gone, Henry almost produced a second goal when he had Marshall scurrying back to his line by floating in an audacious effort from more than 40-yards which only just cleared the crossbar.
City could be grateful that Wolves had not made the most of their dead ball opportunities and another corner from Kightly on the half hour was wasted when he again cleared everyone in the penalty area.
Elliott had the opportunity to score a second when a diagonal ball into the area from Kightly caught the City defence napping but he completely miscued and his weak first time effort rolled across the face of the goal.
Shackell was rather overworked at the back and a poor pass by Murray almost played him into trouble before he was able to clear, taking a whack on the ankle at the same time.
Things went from bad to worse after 34 minutes when the lively Keogh struck a superb second goal for Wolves. As a City attack broke down, Keogh found Ward on the left and raced forward to meet the return pass and, with Doherty back pedalling, the striker shifted the ball onto his right foot and beat Marshall with a powerful drive which finished just inside the keeper's right hand post.
Ward fired over the top from long range as Wolves kept up their relentless assault.
Four minutes before the break City won a free-kick in a rare raid into Wolves territory when Brellier was fouled by Olofinjana. Lappin's kick was aimed towards Strihavka and Doherty but the flag went up for offside.
Huckerby, who had switched to the right, won a free-kick when he was fouled by Gray. The kick was headed clear as far as Russell, who thumped a high ball back into the area but Hennessey jumped highest to gather it.
Kightly had a clear opportunity to stretch the home team's lead in the last minute of the half when Olofinjana put him clean through but with Marshall advancing, he rolled his effort wide of the post.
Russell then appeared to be shown the yellow card for arguing with referee Bennett.
The half ended with City having failed to muster a shot, either on or off target.
t Half-time: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Norwich City 0
During the interval, the crowd were entertained by a competition in which fans from both clubs had to dribble round cardboard cut outs in Wolves' colours. Given City's lack of attacking threat in the first half, this was perhaps their best chance of getting something from the game.
Wolves won their eighth corner of the match two minutes into the half, but it was Strihavka who was back to head clear from Kightly's kick.
Another in-swinging corner from the left from Kightly had Marshall stretching to palm the ball away as the hosts looked to press home their advantage.
Five minutes into the half, City won a free-kick when Brellier was fouled, but Lappin's dead ball cross was cleared and Wolves broke quickly on the counterattack.
It almost brought goal number three when Kightly crossed to the far post, but Elliott got the ball caught under his feet and could only bundle it wide.
After 55 minutes, Grant made the first change by sending on Martin in place of Strihavka. The big striker had seen little of the ball but was no worse than most of his colleagues.
Wolves forced their 11th corner and again went close to stretching their lead when Craddock headed on Kightly's flag kick and Elliott turned it just over the bar.
With an hour gone, the Canaries had still not threatened to reduce the arrears and were perhaps fortunate not to be further behind.
Marshall came out to gather a cross from Keogh as the home team swept forward again.
Referee Bennett was suddenly reaching for the cards with disastrous consequences for Norwich.
After 61 minutes, Henry was booked for a challenge on Brellier but a minute later, Henry was the victim of a high tackle by Shackell, which earned him a straight red card. He became the second City defender to be sent off in successive games after Dublin's exit at Charlton and it left the Canaries with serious problems for the next two matches, at least.
Before that incident, Croft had been on the touchline ready to come on as Grant planned another change, but instead he sat down again and it was Brown who then stripped off, ready to come on.
Murray moved to centre half alongside Doherty with Lappin at left back as City tried to reorganise with a man short.
Midway through the half, Brown was indeed sent on as the lone striker in place of Cureton.
Doherty was being kept at full stretch in City's reorganised defence and he did well to block an effort from Ward at the far post from another Kightly cross.
Keogh squandered an excellent chance to increase Wolves' advantage in the 73rd minute when he sliced a left foot shot into the crowd and it was something of a miracle that City were still only two goals down and at least theoretically in the game.
City's afternoon was turning into a total disaster and with 15 minutes to go, Brellier became the second player to be shown the red card. First he fouled Elliott on the touchline not far from the Norwich dugout and as referee Bennett reached for the yellow card, Brellier kicked the ball away and the official produced yellow, followed by red, leaving City down to nine men.
Two minutes later, Marshall produced an excellent save, leaping to his left to keep out a curling shot from Kightly.
Norwich simply could not get the ball at this stage and chant after chant of “Ole” rang out around the ground as Wolves kept possession at will.
The referee showed the yellow card again when Ward tugged Huckerby to the ground and, with 11 minutes left, City made their final change with Spillane replacing Huckerby.
Martin earned a ticking off from the official for protesting after he was penalised for a foul on Gray but on this occasion he escaped a yellow card.
After 81 minutes, believe it or not, City finally produced their first shot at goal when Martin sliced his effort horribly wide, but at least it was a shot.
Moments later a back pass from Doherty almost had Marshall in trouble before he could control the ball on his thigh and hammer it clear.
Wolves' manager McCarthy was becoming irate on the touchline because his side had not truly rubbed Norwich's noses in it and Henry was the next to be wasteful when he sliced a long range shot yards off target.
No doubt lifted by their first shot at goal, City then won their first corner of the match through Brown's persistence with five minutes to go. Doherty challenged for the header from Lappin's kick but was outnumbered and Wolves were able to break quite easily.
Result: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Norwich City 0.