Football: Weaver's fumble opens door for Roberts' decider

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The Independent Online
Norwich City 1 Manchester City 0

MANCHESTER CITY were left to reflect on some controversial refereeing decisions after their failure to return to the summit of the First Division table at Carrow Road last night.

They had two goals disallowed in the first half and were denied a penalty in the 53rd minute when Ian Bishop, the former West Ham midfielder, was felled inside the box.

It was Iwan Roberts's strike eight minutes before the interval which condemned City to their third successive defeat and their second in East Anglia in the last three days.

The visitors, who lost 1-0 at Ipswich on Sunday, recalled their captain, Andy Morrison, after injury it was the presence of their towering defender which influenced much of the first half.

Norwich rarely threatened in a first-half dominated from start to finish by the visiting side who were playing their fifth game in a gruelling 13-day schedule.

But it was Bruce Rioch's side, who are hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone, who scored the decisive goal when a calamitous error by the England Under-21 goalkeeper Nick Weaver cost the visitors dear.

Darren Eadie's innocuous free-kick swung in from the right and Weaver elected to punch the ball clear instead of catching it cleanly. The ball fell kindly to the Norwich midfielder Darel Russell who headed it to the veteran striker Roberts, whose cushioned header looped beyond the stranded goalkeeper and into an empty net.

It was a harsh goal to concede for City. The Republic of Ireland midfielder Mark Kennedy was omnipresent in an impressive first half-hour and it was his teasing cross which should have rewarded City with the opening goal of the game.

Kennedy tricked his way around Darren Kenton down the left-hand touch- line and his cross was met by the Bermudan international striker Shaun Goater but his header was well saved by the Norwich goalkeeper Andy Marshall.

City were unfortunate to have a goal ruled out when, midway through the half, Kennedy again weaved the magic. His elegant through ball found Paul Dickov down the left and his cross was met by Jeff Whitley, but the resulting header was ruled out for offside.

City were unable to keep up the relentless pace in a turgid second half, but they were denied a clear-cut penalty eight minutes after the interval.

Bishop turned Shaun Carey inside the box and the Norwich defender brought him down but the referee, incredibly, waved play on.

Norwich City (4-4-2): A Marshall; Sutch, Fleming, Jackson, Kenton; L Marshall, Carey, Russell, Eadie; Roberts, Dalglish (Llewellyn, 62). Substitutes not used: Forbes, Wilson, Green (gk), Mackay.

Manchester City (4-4-2); Weaver; Crooks, Morrison, Jobson (Cooke, 62), Granville; Whitley, Bishop, Horlock, Kennedy; Goater, Dickov (Taylor, 60; Allsopp, 68). Substitutes not used: McKinney (gk), Fenton.

Referee: M Fletcher (Warley).