Football: Norwich revel in renewed ambition

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Norwich City 1 Derby County 0

The goal was a beauty, the three points lifted Norwich City to within reach of the play-offs and there was not a "Chase Out" banner in sight.

After the game, Gary Megson, the Norwich manager, tried hard not to smile and even harder to avoid the off-field politics. No, he did not think the "better atmosphere" in the ground lifted his team. "The fans couldn't help but produce a decent atmosphere with the way the team played," he said.

In the first half, however, the Norwich players seemed to think a siege meant that you were the ones who pounded the enemy from long range. Jamie Cureton, a highly promising 20-year-old striker, offered a small but inviting target with excellent movement off the ball, but passes hoofed high from the back hardly played to his or Robert Fleck's strength.

One script for the afternoon had the nose of the chairman, Robert Chase, getting rubbed in the proverbial a little more. It nearly happened when Ashley Ward, Norwich's top scorer sold to Derby for pounds 1m just a week ago, was sent clear by Marco Gabbiadini's excellent flicked pass. But his half- hit shot shaved the post, and while Ward was greeted warmly at the start by the home fans, a determined second-half performance by Norwich reminded them that although the moral high ground offers some comfort, the view from higher up the table is a lot more enriching.

The goal that lifted Norwich two places came when Ian Crook, who was meant to be off to Aberdeen last week, met a lovely pass from Cureton which Igor Stimac at full stretch could only knock back into the path of Jeremy Goss. A right-footed thump on the bounce crashed the ball inside the post for Goss's first of the season, scored on the anniversary of his signing for the club 13 years ago.

As the fans left the stadium, the announcer on Radio Canary said: "The sun has come out at Carrow Road". Megson was not so sure, though. There had been, he said, "a few false dawns" in his time at the club and he would not be thinking about the play-offs just yet. "Personally, I think it's beyond us, but I'd love to be proved wrong," he said.

Goal: Goss (65) 1-0.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Gunn; Prior, Newman, Polston, Bradshaw; Adams, Milligan, Crook (Mills, 84), Goss; Fleck (O'Neill, 90), Cureton (Akinbiyi, 87).

Derby County (3-4-1-2): Hoult; Yates, Stimac, Wassall; Carsley, Flynn, Hodges (Simpson, 60), Powell (Rowett, 69); Willems; Gabbiadini (Sturridge, h-t), Ward.

Referee: I Hemley (Ampthill).

Bookings: Norwich City Fleck, Mills. Derby County: Gabbiadini, Stimac.

Man of the match: Cureton.

Attendance: 15,348.