Birmingham City 0 Norwich City 1: Norwich give Grant a perfect start

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Peter Grant's losing streak came to an end last night - even though he had to change clubs to achieve it. The former Celtic player, who experienced six defeats on the trot as Alan Pardew's assistant at West Ham before taking over as Norwich manager on Monday, saw his new players deliver an industrious victory in his opening game. It was a result that made life even more difficult for his highly experienced counterpart, Steve Bruce, who heard some of the crowd chanting for his resignation as the match ended amid booing.

The normally chirpy Bruce resembled a dead parrot afterwards as he contemplated what he described a "shocking" performance. "You have bad nights, but that was certainly one of the worst ones in my time here. We played with a fear. We had players who we needed to stand up and be counted tonight, but they couldn't respond. There is a huge expectation from the crowd for us to bounce straight back into the Premiership and the players couldn't handle it. It's not nice to hear people calling for your job, but I understand their frustration."

Asked if he felt his job was under threat, Bruce responded: "You've got to ask other people about that. Whatever happens I've had nearly five wonderful years here." Asked if he would be talking to the club president, David Sullivan, and chairman, David Gold, today, he responded ominously: "I would think so."

Grant, predictably, had his feathers fluffed up after his side's first away win since January thanks to a 66th-minute goal from centre half Jason Shackell.

If the manner of the goal was fortuitous - the ball went in off the back of Shackell's head as he rose to a Darren Huckerby free-kick - it was nevertheless fully deserved, given that Robert Earnshaw had seen two clear scoring opportunities early in the second half thwarted by smart saves from the home goalkeeper Maik Taylor.

"It was a great start for us, and I'm obviously delighted," said Grant. "I said to the team that I didn't want anyone to play with fear, and they didn't."

Bruce could badly have done with that response from his men last night.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Taylor; Tebily, Jaidi, N'Gotty, Sadler; Danns (Kilkenny, 35), Dunn, Muamba (Larsson, 75), McSheffrey; Jerome (Gray, 57), Campbell. Substitutes not used: Doyle (gk), Kelly.

Norwich City (4-5-1): Gallacher; Drury (Fleming, h-t), Shackell, Doherty, Croft (McVeigh, 83); Robinson, Safri, Etuhu, Huckerby, Colin; Earnshaw. Substitutes not used: Lewis (gk), Dublin, Jarvis.

Referee: M Pike (Cumbria).

* Preston produced a great response after going 2-0 down at Ipswich to go second in the table with a 3-2 victory last night, David Nugent, Liam Chilvers and Simon Whaley scoring their goals. West Bromwich Albion's 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace moved them into third, while Wolves beat Coventry 1-0 to claim fourth spot.