Football: Kiwomya curtails flight of Canaries: The leaders' progress is checked by their spirited East Anglian neighbours

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The Independent Online
Norwich City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Ipswich Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

NORWICH can still enjoy their Christmas on top of the Premier League pile but their festive celebrations will be decidedly low-key after this defeat, their first at home and the more wounding coming courtesy of their nearest and fiercest rivals.

Chris Kiwomya placed the first serious question mark beside Norwich's right to remain on high into the New Year with Ipswich's first goal in the 52nd minute. Their second, two minutes from time, merely provided the dressing on a victory that was greeted sweetly in Suffolk.

For once in this remarkable campaign for them, Norwich, having gone behind were unable to manufacture a comeback. Nor did they ever look likely to. It was a big game for them with Carrow Road full to capacity and live television cameras in attendance to discover the nature of the fairytale story that was developing in rural Norfolk.

And they blew it. It has been said so many times that they would not last the pace so maybe the Championship turkeys have come home to roost.

'I thought we looked reasonably in control but after they scored it was always going to be difficult for us,' the Norwich manager, Mike Walker, said. 'They were happy to sit back and we couldn't do anything about it. People will say we have gone again so it's up to us to prove them wrong once more. This will be a good test for the players: we have enjoyed our stay at the top and we want to remain there.'

While his team have claimed all the local attention - though they still complain they have barely caused a ripple on the national scale - Ipswich have gone about their business quietly but with persuasive effectiveness. They now climb to sixth position and look totally at home in their new, elevated surroundings. With just two defeats all season they are the most secure side of any in all four divisions.

They were happy to let their neighbours take control in the first half and although David Phillips and Ian Culverhouse both fired in dangerous salvos they did not look in danger of falling behind and in that period had the best chance to go ahead.

Paul Goddard produced one of those fine, long passes that are the hallmark of his team to send Steve Whitton away. The winger was one-on-one with Bryan Gunn but the goalkeeper was able to read his intentions.

Ipswich held up well again as Norwich continued on the attack at the start of the second half. They waited until then for their first corner but then made it count with devastating effect.

Neil Thompson's delivery was met first by Jason Dozzell and fell perfectly for Kiwomya to score with a simple header, the same combination that had sunk Aston Villa last week and provided Ipswich's ticket to a place in the quarter-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup.

It was Kiwomya's 12th goal and Norwich will be kicking themselves for ignoring his threat. The spring-heeled striker saw an opening for his second soon after but Gunn was there again to block the shot.

It did not appear to matter as by this stage Ipswich were super-confident and Norwich's hopes of taking a seven-point lead into the holiday period were all but swept away.

Two minutes from time their second successive defeat, another first was confirmed. Thompson began the move with a free-kick which Dozzell played in to Kiwomya again. He allowed the full-back the time and room to take up a scoring position.

Norwich City: Gunn; Culverhouse, Bowen, Butterworth (Newman, h/t), Polston, Sutch, Megson, Beckford (Sutton, 57), Robins, Fox, Phillips. Substitute not used: Walton (gk).

Ipswich Town: Baker; Johnson, Thompson, Stockwell, Wark, Linighan, Williams, Goddard (Whelan, 81), Whitton, Dozzell, Kiwomya. Substitutes not used: Genchev, Winters (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Middlesex).

(Photograph omitted)