Wigley on the edge as Canaries break their duck at last

Norwich City 2 Southampton 1
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The Independent Football

Southampton coach Steve Wigley must again be in fear of losing his job, after Norwich finally savoured their first Barclays Premiership victory this season.

Southampton coach Steve Wigley must again be in fear of losing his job, after Norwich finally savoured their first Barclays Premiership victory this season.

In the wake of today's embarrassment against a City side who started the day at the foot of the table and without a win after 13 league games, Wigley's situation looks as dire as ever.

He received a reprieve via last week's 2-1 south-coast derby win against Portsmouth, but there appears reduced hope of further salvation following Damien Francis' two-goal match-winning salvo.

There are rumours former Southampton boss Glenn Hoddle, who controversially walked out on the club for Spurs a few years ago, has been waiting in the wings - and he could yet be installed at St Mary's before another crucial 'six-pointer' with Crystal Palace next weekend.

Wigley can have no complaints with this defeat because Norwich deservedly celebrated a vital victory - banishing the prospect of setting a new club record of 14 successive league matches without a win.

Yesterday, and for the first time this campaign, manager Nigel Worthington turned to a motivational video in the hope of inspiring his beleaguered side - and it appeared to do the trick.

The 15-minute compilation tape included clips of Michael Schumacher winning the Formula One crown, Muhammad Ali in his boxing prime, England's rugby World Cup-winners and the England cricket team winning several Test matches this year.

City came out fired-up and controlled the early exchanges, carving out the opening opportunity in the first minute when Mathias Svensson caught Southampton captain Jason Dodd in possession 10 yards inside his own half.

Svensson's eventual left-wing cross took a slight deflection off Claus Lundekvam into the path of Phil Mulryne for a first-time edge-of-the-area shot which led to Kasey Keller saving low to his right.

Robert Green, starting his 127th consecutive match for City after recovering from a 'dead' leg sustained in last week's 4-0 defeat at Charlton and which forced him to pull out of England's friendly in Spain, then turned a James Beattie drive beyond his left-hand post. Acrimony followed soon afterwards when Dodd, on his return to the starting line-up for the first time since the opening day of the season, clearly handled a cross from Darren Huckerby - only for referee Mike Riley to wave play on.

Norwich might have been rattled but instead maintained their rhythm and focus and should have taken a 20th-minute lead when Huckerby jinked his way past a tortured Dodd and Fabrice Fernandes. The pull-back found Francis for a 20-yard first-time shot which stung the fingers of on-loan Keller, retaining his place in the side because of Antti Niemi's knee injury.

Four minutes later and out of the blue Southampton took the lead through Beattie, the striker catching a right-wing cross from Rory Delap on the half-volley and 25 yards from goal for his third this season and his first for two-and-a-half months.

It was not the cleanest of connections but proved decisive as the spin on the shot took it away from a leaden-footed Green, the ball clipping the inside of the right-hand post.

Four minutes later, though, Norwich were deservedly level when a fast break down the left wing culminated in Leon McKenzie's pull-back being sidefooted home by Francis for his third of the season.

After Dodd had blocked a goal-bound Mulryne drive, it was the visitors who ended the half the stronger - Green tipping away a Dexter Blackstock shot at full stretch, while Paul Telfer clipped the top of the bar with a flicked header.

But within seven minutes of the restart, it was Norwich who regained the initiative - Francis effectively creating the winning goal, and definitely finishing it.

A low, awkward shot from Francis was just turned wide by Keller. But from the ensuing David Bentley corner, Craig Fleming knocked the ball forward into the six-yard box.

There was not a red-and-white-striped shirt within three yards of the midfielder, and he applied a simple headed finish - with Keller thumping the ground in frustration at the lack of marking from his defenders.

Wigley brought on last week's match-winner Kevin Phillips on the hour for Blackstock, and two minutes later the striker drilled in a goal-bound shot which was blocked by Fleming - with the suspicion he had used his left hand.

But City were reprieved, just as they had been denied in the first half.

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