Football: Newman hits the target

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The Independent Online
Norwich City . . . . . .1

Sheffield Wednesday. . .0

ROB NEWMAN is fast gaining a reputation as the most valuable utility player in the Premier League. And the man who has filled in for Norwich in defence and midfield showed his striking skills at Carrow Road yesterday, scoring the only goal of an entertaining game to take the Canaries four points clear at the top.

Newman's 44th-minute header brought Norwich their fifth successive win - a record for the East Anglian club at the highest level. They were well worth maximum points, attacking at speed and in numbers, and defending with spirit. 'They were the best team we have played against this season,' Trevor Francis, the Wednesday player/manager, said.

Against a Wednesday side missing seven regulars, Norwich gradually acquired the initiative in the first half and dominated most of the second period. Newman linked up well with Mark Robins, who deserved to add to his six League goals for his new employers.

Newman, marking his 50th League appearance in Norwich's garish colours, was the focus of all City's attacks, the tall striker controlling the ball well with his back to goal before laying it off.

Newman's goal owed everything to being in the right place. Robins sped towards the goal line, checked in and crossed firmly. The ball was met by Newman, who had timed his run to the penalty spot to perfection. Woods had barely flinched before the ball was past him.

Wednesday, badly missing the muscular menace of David Hirst up front, where Mark Bright started promisingly but faded, nearly went further behind moments after the restart when Woods needed to be at his most alert and agile to tip over Jeremy Goss's teasing cross.

Norwich largely ran the show in the second half although Wednesday's two Chrises - Bart-Williams and Waddle, showed signs of slipping through a back-four marshalled by Ian Butterworth. 'Defensively we got a lot tighter in the second half,' Deehan said. 'It's beyond my wildest dreams that we are in this position.'

Norwich City: B Gunn; I Culverhouse, M Bowen, I Butterworth, C Sutton, G Megson, I Crook, R Newman, M Robins, J Goss, D Phillips. Subs not used: D Sutch, D Beckford, M Walton (gk). Manager: M Walker.

Sheffield Wednesday: C Woods; J Harkes, N Worthington, C Palmer, P Shirtliff, V Anderson, D Wilson, C Waddle, M Bright, C Bart-Williams, T Francis (N Jemson, 51 min; N Pearson 79 min). Sub not used: K Pressman (gk). Player-Manager: T Francis.

Referee: R Nixon (West Kirby, Wirral).

Goal: Newman (1-0, 44 min).

(Photograph omitted)