Clough uses clout

Manchester City 2 Clough 31, Dickov 54 Norwich City 1 Scott 88 Attendance: 28,269
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The Independent Online
An edgy climax typified the disjointed first impressions at home for the new Manchester City manager, Steve Coppell. League positions, and not the result, provide a better indication of the two sides' respective credentials for returning to the top flight.

Relief oozed from Coppell. "It was a bit jangling at the end and we had a little bit of good fortune. Andy Dibble made a couple of good saves for us at important times. When you are 18th in the division, you have to look for qualities different from flowing football. One little victory gives everybody a bit more incentive and a bit more confidence," he enthused.

Mike Walker's second-placed Norwich produced assured football but lost their shape and discipline when the home side took the lead. Their trademark neat passing was sacrificed for an increasingly desperate longer ball that did not pay dividends until the final seconds.

A bruising encounter reflected the extent to which the pride of two ambitious clubs has been dented by relatively short periods outside the Premiership. Both camps possess jewels of Premiership quality, notably in Darren Eadie and Georgi Kinkladze, but their bustling and buzzing runs rarely produced polished final results.

City's first-half lead was a blatant disregard for the game's balance of power, although Walker was disappointed with his side's start. "We were playing at one pace and that suited Manchester City. But I was pleased with the attitude of the players when we went 2-0 down. Our goal was too little, too late," the Norwich manager said.

Nicky Summerbee gained temporary plaudits from a critical home support when, finding space on the edge of the box, the fullback released Nigel Clough into space in the penalty area to power a deflected shot past Bryan Gunn.

The lead was extended courtesy of sloppy defending, Paul Dickov pouncing on a wayward John Polston back-header to lob the stranded goalkeeper Gunn. The visitors' reply also featured a fair element of good fortune when Keith Scott seized on a bobbling ball in a crowded penalty area to volley low into the corner.