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17:00 3rd November 2012

Norwich Match Report

STOKE CITY slipped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Norwich City at Carrow Road... although the Potters will be frustrated at not getting any reward from a tight contest.

Bradley Johnson's header just before the break edged the hosts in front, and despite steady flow of attacks from Tony Pulis' men in the second-half, it proved enough to earn the Canaries all three points.

Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters missed City's best opportunities, and the blank on the scoresheet ultimately means the Club have now won only one of their first ten Premier League games.

Pulis opted for Andy Wilkinson as the replacement for Marc Wilson at left back, as he had indicated in the build-up to the match, and that was the only change to the side which had battled out a goalless draw with Sunderland a week earlier.

Wilkinson was immediately called upon to make an important clearance with his head when Holt was hovering just behind him after Anthony Pilkington had been released down the left hand side before sending over a menacing cross.

As Norwich made the brighter start to the game, City were forced to defend in numbers and that was highlighted by the fact that they managed to block a long range attempt at goal from Alexander Tettey after good work by Wes Hoolahan.

The first sign of a threat for the Potters came when Walters seized upon a mistake by Norwich and teed up a chance for Peter Crouch, who was unable to fashion a clear shot at goal as Michael Turner closed him down quickly on the edge of the box.

There was further encouragement for City in their next attack and once again it was of Norwich’s making as Javier Garrido gave the ball away.

Michael Kightly was the one to pounce on this occasion and his lay-off saw Charlie Adam try an ambitious long range shot which was only inches wide.

Norwich were beginning to grow frustrated that they had not been able to build on a promising start and that was emphasised by the groans around the stadium when Robert Snodgrass overhit an attempted cross in the direction of Holt.

However, all that changed midway through the half when the ball broke kindly for Hoolahan as he burst into the box from the left hand side and he found Pilkington in an excellent position whose low shot was saved by the legs of Asmir Begovic.

Adam became the first player to be shown a yellow card for what referee Andre Mariner deemed to be a dive as he tried to burst clear of Garrido, although television replays showed that the Norwich full back had made minimal contact.

Having weathered a period of pressure, City then had a couple of half chances as Crouch chested down a ball into the box, but he couldn’t control his eventual shot as well and it flew harmlessly wide of John Ruddy’s left hand post.

The Norwich ‘keeper was nevertheless called into action to comfortably gather a 25-yard drive from Adam as the Potters pressed forward and then he advanced off his line to claim a cross from Kightly which took a deflection off Steven Whittaker.

With two minutes of the half remaining, Norwich went in front when they were awarded a free kick on the right hand side for a foul by Wilkinson on Snodgrass which earned the full-back a yellow card from referee Marriner.

It was Snodgrass who whipped the free kick into the area where Johnson met it with a twisting header which looped in at the far post.

It could so easily have been a two-goal deficit at the break as Pilkington cut in from the left and fired over a cross that just evaded Holt.

Norwich began the second half in the ascendency, although they were helped by an uneasy moment for Begovic as he misjudged the direction of a speculative long range shot from Garrido and turned it behind for a corner.

There was, however, an excellent chance for the Potters to draw level when Crouch and Adam flicked the ball on to release Walters, but his shot wasn’t firmly struck and was well-saved by Ruddy moving smartly to his left.

Walters had another chance a couple of minutes later when Adam swung a ball crossfield to the edge of the box, but he completely miscued his attempted volley from a tight angle and it failed to trouble Ruddy on that occasion.

Pulis then made a couple of changes in quick succession as Matthew Etherington replaced Kightly before Jones was introduced in place of Walters.

The first sign of encouragement for the Potters following those changes came when they awarded a free kick which Adam swung into the area and Jones rose to meet it with a firm header, but it was directed straight at Ruddy.

Jones then went even closer as City exerted pressure in search of an equaliser, firing a low shot wide of the far post from ten yards out after the presence of Crouch and Shawcross in the box had created the golden chance.

As the game moved into its final stages, Pulis’ last throw of the dice was to send on Whelan in place of Wilkinson, meaning that City would operate for the final few minutes of the match with Whitehead at left back.

Even though they peppered the Norwich penalty area in the final moments, they couldn't find that elusive equaliser.


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955