Roberts provides inspiration as Norwich go second

Norwich City 2 West Bromwich Albion 0
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The Independent Football

Norwich City's players offered their manager, Nigel Worthington, an ideal incentive to stay last night by moving to second place in the First Division as they maintained the Nationwide League's only 100 per cent home record.

Reports in the local evening paper indicated that Worthington would consider a move to his old club Sheffield Wednesday – huge on potential, but currently standing second from bottom of the First Division – should his contract not be extended beyond its present status of 18 months. If Worthington's team continues to show such verve, the board would have to be crazy not to accommodate him.

The visitors approached this key game in equally unsettled mood following rumours that their manager, Gary Megson, was interested in the vacancy left at Birmingham City by Trevor Francis' departure this week. Although Albion lacked nothing for effort, their approach was made to look primitive by the subtleties of Norwich's attacking play.

If Worthington had been looking for early signs of encouragement, he received satisfying rewards as his team scored twice in the space of three minutes to seize the initiative in what was a fiercely contested match.

Paul McVeigh, playing wide on the Norwich left, gave several indications in the opening minutes of his ability to trouble the visiting defence and, with 13 minutes played, he made a crucial contribution to Norwich's opening goal, picking up a headed clearance and whipping the ball back into the box as Albion's defence moved forward seeking an offside decision. As defenders stood with arms raised, the Norwich captain, Iwan Roberts, kept his eye on the ball and beat the advancing goalkeeper to it to head over the line before celebrating his sixth goal of the season in characteristic style.

Three minutes later the home side drew further ahead and once again they had McVeigh to thank for it. He controlled a cross that had cleared the Albion defence and tricked his way past James Chambers before curling over a pass to the far post where Mark Rivers headed home unmarked.

Albion, whose rich run of recent form has sent them into match, like their opponents, with a chance of reaching second place, looked collectively stunned by those sudden setbacks. But with Megson providing urgent vocal encouragement from the touchline they gathered themselves and managed to produce a legitimate scoring opportunity eight minutes from the break when Neil Clement evaded two challenges before driving his shot narrowly over.

Albion's renewed efforts after the interval almost earned tangible reward in the 52nd minute when a shot from their captain, Derek McInnes, from 30 yards out cannoned against bar and post before bouncing off the goal line. But that was the closest the visitors would come to a goal.

Norwich City (3-5-2): Green; Nedergaard, Mackay, Fleming; Rivers (Russell, 77), Mulryne, Holt, McVeigh, Drury (Kenton, 54); Roberts, Libbra (Llewellyn, 60). Substitutes not used: Crichton (gk), Notman.

West Bromwich Albion (3-5-2): Hoult; Sigurdsson, Moore, Gilchrist; J Chambers, Johnson (Fox, 68), Appleton (A Chambers, 88), McInnes, Clement (Cummings, 68); Taylor, Dobie. Substitutes not used: Jensen (gk), Butler.

Referee: K D Hill (Royston, Herts).