Earnshaw earns power points

Cardiff City 2 Norwich City 1
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The Independent Football

Norwich City, the First Division leaders, brought with them into this game a prodigious away record. The Canaries had not lost on the road in the League for nine games, going all the way back to October when they were beaten 1-0 by West Brom.

Less forgivable, in the eyes of their manager Nigel Worthington, was the defending that saw Norwich prised open for the second goal, which ultimately cost them at least a point.

As Worthington said: "If you defend like that you'll get punished. You won't win anything. Defending has been one of our strengths but I'm not going to criticise the team too much now."

The arrival of a team on form gave Cardiff an incentive to improve their own mid-table position. Neither close to the relegation zone nor genuinely likely to reach the play-offs, the Bluebirds' season was in danger of petering out two months before it ends. With this win, Lennie Lawrence confessed he was beginning to look at the League table once more.

The Cardiff manager and his men clearly relished the chance to prove themselves against theoretically superior opposition and after seeing Matthias Svensson head one effort over the crossbar early on, they took control.

The heavens opened with 17 minutes gone but the chances of the floodgates doing likewise on the pitch had not seemed high in the early exchanges. Norwich were hanging balls high for Svensson while Cardiff looked, vainly at first, to the pace of Robert Earnshaw.

The opening goal came from neither source. Paul Parry was looking to find Earnshaw and although the cross missed its intended target the inswinging ball deceived Rob Green and found its way inside the far post.

Worthington called it "one of those unfortunate situations". But the goal that really riled him was the second. Perhaps fazed by the first, Marc Edworthy gave the ball away to Parry which caught the visitors unawares and on the counter-attack he found Earnshaw, who tapped the ball home. Norwich had to be grateful for small mercies when with, 25 minutes gone, Tony Vidmar's header rebounded off the post, giving them hope of getting back into the match.

They profited from that piece of luck 10 minutes after the interval with what was their first shot on target.

Worthington made two changes at half-time, one of them being Leon McKenzie for Paul McVeigh, and it paid a dividend when the striker showed what a good eye for goal he has. The ball slipped under a Cardiff foot and he seized his opportunity by spinning around and finding the corner of Martyn Margetson's net. Five minutes later he had a chance to equalise but screwed his shot across goal from a tight angle.

McKenzie had more chances to play the super-sub role to perfection. When Darren Huckerby floated in a tempting pass after 71 minutes it seemed as if parity was certain but from 10 yards out the former Crystal Palace forward barely got a touch. Defeat will have hurt but more importantly Norwich's promotion chances remain almost unscathed.

Cardiff City 2
Parry 17, Earnshaw 20

Norwich City 1
McKenzie 55

Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 16,317