Football: Ekoku plays role of chief executioner: Norwich close on Leeds as Sutton's intelligence and Gunn's intransigence make stylish combination

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The Independent Online
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AFTER the uplifting diversions of European affairs, Norwich City made a splendid start to the repair work needed on the home front last night when Efan Ekoku finally made an opening count to grab the winner with just nine minutes remaining and dent Leeds' hopes of clawing back Manchester United's advantage at the top of the table.

At the climax of a fascinating and fluctuating drama, Ekoku sped away on to Chris Sutton's pass and retained his composure to follow up when his initial attempt was spilled by Mark Beeney. It was Leeds' first defeat in 15 games.

After going behind, Leeds had an impressive period which realised Rod Wallace's eighth goal in as many games and made them look likely winners. Another raid saw Wallace shooting for goal a second time only to find Colin Woodthorpe on the line. Norwich, on the ropes, increasingly reliant on Brian Gunn's ability between the posts and hitherto unable to score more than once in the League at home, looked as if they had no more to give.

Nevertheless a spirit and a backbone which refuses to give in is inherent in the Canary make-up these days and their manager, Mike Walker, fast emerging as the favourite to take over at Everton, believes this slightly fortuitous victory evens the score after the injustice of Milan last week.

It puts them back in the chasing group, having lost their position as United's closest challengers, but Walker said: 'I don't really care about them, I would need binoculars to see where they are at the moment. Still, they could have a bad patch and it's up to the rest of us to get in a position to take advantage.'

No Butterworth (flu) and no Crook, Goss and Polston (all injured) provided more opportunities for the reserves and on his first appearance of the season their young midfielder, David Smith, seized the chance to impress. After weathering the initial Leeds storm he came into the picture as did Sutton.

On the stroke of half-time Sutton showed the way after several near misses. Smith released Mark Bowen, who cleverly pulled the ball back into Sutton's path for the striker to curl his shot in off the far post.

Just before, Gunn had denied Kevin Sharp with his legs and repeated the feat from Brian Deane shortly after the interval. He finally conceded defeat in the 68th minute when, from Gary McAllister's break, Wallace squeezed his effort inside the near post.

Norwich City (1-3-4-2): Gunn; Culverhouse; Prior (Ullathorne, 78), Newman, Woodthorpe; Fox, Megson, Smith, Bowen; Ekoku (Power, 86), Sutton. Substitute not used: Howie (gk).

Leeds United (4-4-2): Beeney; Kelly, Fairclough, Wetherall, Dorigo; Strachan, McAllister, Hodge, Sharp (Whelan, 84); Rod Wallace, Deane. Substitutes not used: Lukic (gk), Newsome.

Referee: R Milford (Bristol).