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00:00 27th January 2010

Norwich City 3 Exeter City 1

Exeter and Norwich served up an entertaining game in wintry conditions at Carrow Road but it was the Canaries who came out on top 3-1.

City lined up : Jones, Duffy, Taylor, Seaborne, Tully, Harley, Cozic, Russell, Golbourne, Fleetwood, Stansfield.

The opening exchanges were fairly uneventful, only a heavily deflected shot that Jones easily dealt with being produced. Then on 8 minutes, from little danger Norwich were ahead. 20 goal Grant Holt was left in acres of space at the far post and what looked to be a regulation cross was buried beyond the City keeper.

After the home side's top scorer had put another chance wide City began to get a foothold in the game. Stansfield headed wide, but had been flagged marginally offside, then Golbourne and Tully both had chances to shoot, the latter leading to City's first corner.

Holt particularly was causing City problems with his movement. He was appearing on both flanks, often in a lot of space and on more than one occasion only good defending prevented further chances for the home side.

Norwich had most of the play but City were also showing signs of danger. Golbourne shot over from 20 yards and Stansfield's flicked header was easily saved but the chances Norwich created were of better quality. One such chance saw Jones tip over from left back Drury's drive, another header went over from a corner and Holt twice brought saves from Jones.

City's best spell of the half came in the last 5 minutes. A neat move saw Russell head for goal from 6 yards but the ball struck Norwich keeper Forster on the knees and squirmed away. Moments later Tully found himself free on the right side of the penalty area. He shot towards the far corner but as the ball passed Forster a defender was on hand to hack clear. Golbourne's follow up went wide. The last chance of the half saw the left sided City player's shot comfortably saved.

It was as you were for the second half and for the first quarter of an hour Exeter couldn't really get going. Norwich kept possession well and prevented Stansfield and Fleetwood getting any action worthy of note.

So, on the hour, Tisdale mixed it up. Off came the two forwards, along with Russell, and on came Stewart, Logan and Sercombe.

The three had an almost immediate impact. Logan's run and cross was chested back to Sercombe by Stewart and the former's first time volley fizzed wide of Forster's goal. It was to be a sign of things to come as Sercombe particularly took every shooting opportunity that came.

Over the next 10 minutes, Hoolahan's curling effort apart, it was City looking the more likely. Harley's direct free kick was easily saved, and Sercombe shot wide before Cozic'c left foot curler just drifted past Forster's left had upright. Then, as quick as you could say it, Norwich were 2 up.

Another cross, this time from the right went beyond the far post. Four defenders. And Jones, seemed to have everything covered but the first time pull back fell to Chris Martin who fired home despite the best efforts of Taylor on the line. With 13 minutes to go it looked like game over, but City had shown enough quality to warrant oa goal and it wasn't long in coming.

Sercombe, again, let fly from just outside the box. The ball bounced before it got to Forster and he was unable to hold it. Stewart was alert and pounced on the loose ball, rounding a stranded keeper and placing home. So, ten to go and game on.

Or, so you'd hoped as within 2 minutes the 2 goal deficit was restored. City seemed to loose their shape and the defence got caught having to try to play offside high up the pitch. One good ball, and a well timed run from Holt and he was clear. He bore down on Jones from 30 yards out and easily rounded him to roll the ball home for his 22nd goal of the season. If I were a Norwich fan I'd wholeheartedly agree with their fans' song about him! On the touchline Tisdale was showing no such joy at the ease of the pass and the finish.

City tried to come back, and Logan did have the ball in the net, but it was ruled out as Stewart had strayed offside in the build up.

After 4 minutes of added time the referee brought the game to an end signalling Norwich's 9th straight home win, and City's fourth straight away defeat.

So, we come away from another game against a leading side from the division having played well but without any points. January doesn't get much easier as leaders Leeds visit the Park next weekend.

As for the team, nobody really had a poor game. Stansfield and Fleetwood were never allowed to get a foothold in the game by Norwich';s defence, but, that apart, the midfield was industrious and positive, especially Russell who found himself in good defensive positions often, and the substitutes particularly seemed to give City an extra dimension. Golbourne and Tully got forward well too, but it was slight lapses of concentration at the back that set City back.

But we knew that would be the difference from last season. Better sides are able to take these chances more often. But City stayed positive and deservedly gave themselves a chance to salvage a point. It wasn't to be.

    Data provided by Press Association