Wycombe 0, Norwich City 1
David Cuffley SLIDESHOW: Korey Smith’s third goal of the season took Norwich City into second place in League One as they completed their first double of the campaign. With Charlton’s match at Walsall postponed, the Canaries knew that victory would put them into the automatic promotion places but it took them until the 77th minute to settle a very one-sided encounter at Adams Park.
Korey Smith's third goal of the season took Norwich City into second place in League One as they completed their first double of the campaign.
With Charlton's match at Walsall postponed, the Canaries knew that victory would put them into the automatic promotion places but it took them until the 77th minute to settle a very one-sided encounter at Adams Park.
Smith, back after missing three matches through injury, fired home from Wes Hoolahan's cross to finally give Paul Lambert's side the victory their domination deserved.
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They were denied by Wycombe goalkeeper Scott Shearer's fine display, which included no fewer than five important saves, while Chris Martin struck the crossbar in the first half and Grant Holt was denied by a goalline clearance in the second period.
It was a notable double for Smith, who scored his first goal for City in the 5-2 home win over Wycombe in August.
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City's starting line-up showed two changes from the Boxing Day victory over Millwall.
Gary Doherty returned in the centre of defence after a one-match ban, with Russell Martin reverting to right-back and Jon Otsemobor dropping to the bench.
And Smith was recalled in midfield after missing three matches with a thigh strain, with Stephen Hughes ruled out by a calf injury.
Wycombe included their new signing, defender Adam Hinshelwood, following his move from Aldershot Town.
City, wearing their white away kit, threatened first in the second minute when Gary Doherty's through-ball reached Holt, who caught the ball on the volley as it dropped over his right shoulder but his effort lacked power and was straight at goalkeeper Shearer.
Pittman fired over the top for Wycombe after seven minutes following a free-kick awarded for a foul by Russell.
In the 10th minute, Chris Martin's excellent crossfield ball found Hoolahan on the right side of the Wycombe area, but as he set up Smith for a shot, the midfielder's effort was blocked at close range.
The Canaries forced two corners in quick succession and, from the second, Holt directed a header goalwards from Lappin's kick, but it was an easy catch for Shearer.
Pittman created space for a shot from the edge of the area, but dragged a poor effort wide of the target.
Wycombe forced their first corner in the 20th minute but Forster made an easy catch from Davies' kick.
Russell Martin produced an excellent piece of defensive work as Wycombe mounted a swift counter-attack from City's third corner, the full-back getting across to block Pittman's shot and then tidying up the loose ball.
Midway through the half, Hoolahan struck City's best effort so far, taking a pass from Smith and hitting a left-foot drive just over the top from 25 yards.
Holt was left hobbling after a solid challenge by Hinshelwood, and then there were two yellow cards in the space of a minute, Lappin receiving the first then Hinshelwood bringing down Hoolahan on the edge of the area for the second booking.
The resulting free-kick from Lappin brought an excellent save from Shearer, who appeared to push the ball on to the woodwork before blocking Chris Martin's follow-up effort.
Then a Tommy Doherty foul on Hoolahan led to another free-kick, Hoolahan tapping the ball to Lappin, whose left-foot drive was deflected wide for a corner.
City had begun to warm to their task and Russell was next to let fly from long range but his left-foot shot flew over the top.
Chris Martin was desperately close to opening the scoring after 35 minutes when his free-kick, curled over the wall, struck the crossbar after Holt had been tripped by Davies.
A late challenge by Phillips on Nelson as the City defender cleared upfield left him needing treatment, while Russell Martin was hobbling too.
Wycombe carved out one opening three minutes before the break, but Davies headed horribly wide from Betsy's cross.
Russell Martin almost broke the deadlock against his old club two minutes before the interval with a superb effort. Holt nodded Lappin's cross into his path and the full-back struck an instinctive half-volley that was dipping under the bar before Shearer did just enough to tip it over the bar.
t Half-time: Wycombe Wanderers 0, Norwich City 0
City forced a corner soon after the restart when Holt's shot was deflected wide, Doherty heading over from Lappin's kick.
Holt had the ball in the net seven minutes into the second half but clearly palmed the ball in from Lappin's cross.
Tommy Doherty earned the day's third yellow card for chopping down Lappin 10 yards outside the area and, from the resulting free-kick, Chris Martin brought a fine save out of Shearer, the keeper diving to his left to push the ball round the post.
Shearer produced a brilliant save to keep out Russell Martin's powerful 20-yard drive as the Canaries continued to dominate, then Holt headed wide from the resulting corner by Lappin.
Nelson headed just off target from Hoolahan's cross and it was all one-way traffic.
Hinshelwood needed treatment after a fine tackle on Chris Martin just as the City striker shaped to shoot.
Wycombe managed their first shot on target after 61 minutes when Pittman went through but fired straight at Forster.
Oliver replaced Hinshelwood but Wycombe were constantly under the cosh.
Shearer produced his fifth excellent save after 71 minutes when Chris Martin cut in from the left touchline and struck a venomous shot that the 'keeper dived to his left to keep out.
There was an amazing goalmouth scramble with 15 minutes left when Chris Martin and Lappin both had shots blocked before Holt attempted a backheel that Hunt blocked on the line.
City had a lucky escape themselves when Wycombe broke and Phillips' shot beat Forster but rebounded off the post into the goalkeeper's arms.
But the goal the Canaries had threatened finally arrived in the 77th minute when Smith scored his third of the season.
Chris Martin found Hoolahan on the left and he pulled back the perfect centre for Smith, coming in behind the front players, to drill home.
t Result: Wycombe Wanderers 0, Norwich City 1
t Wycombe Wanderers (4-5-1): Shearer; Hunt, Hinshelwood, Westwood, Woodman; Phillips, Mousinho, Tommy Doherty, Davies, Betsy (Harrold, 82); Pittman.
Subs: Young, Green, Oliver (for Hinshelwood, 63), Beavon, Harris, Bloomfield (for Phillips, 85), Harrold (for Betsy, 82).
t Norwich City (4-1-2-1-2): Forster; Russell Martin, Gary Doherty, Nelson, Drury; Russell; Smith, Lappin; Hoolahan; Holt, Chris Martin.
Subs: Steer, Otsemobor, Gill, Adeyemi, McNamee, McDonald, Dawkin.
t Referee: Pat Miller (Bedfordshire)
t Attendance: 7,171
t Goal: Norwich: Smith (77)
t Bookings: Wycombe: Hinshelwood (28), Tommy Doherty (53). Norwich: Lappin (27)