Ten-Man City sting the Bees to go top!

Last updated : 24 January 2010 By Mark Burchett and John Maiden

Norwich City 1 Brentford 0

Norwich City stole a psychological advantage over their promotion
rivals, Leeds, by beating Brentford to go top of the league on goal

Leeds didn’t play due to their continued involvement in the FA Cup and
although they have two games in hand over the Canaries, they’ve yet to
play at Carrow Road.

Paul Lambert’s side did it the hard way, playing with ten men for over
half the match, after Grant Holt’s contentious 41st minute sending off.
Both keepers played their part in an exciting game, with Forster
deservedly the Canaries Man of the Match as he kept Brentford at bay
after Chris Martin’s 77th minute coolly taken goal.

The City boss had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting eleven
and subs bench, after Adam Drury passed a late fitness test on the
knock he received in last Saturday’s 5-0 win at Colchester.

While his counterpart, Andy Scott made three changes with loan
signings Wojciech Szczesny, Toumani Diagouraga and Tommy Smith all
starting in place of keeper Lewis Price, Ben Strevens and Alan Bennett
who were relegated to the bench.

Brentford kicked off towards the Barclay end and for the first ten
minutes it was an evenly contested game.

City then began to assert themselves, winning a corner. In the next
minute a quick sweeping move saw Simon Lappin deliver a deep left wing
cross that fell nicely for Korey Smith, but rather than shoot, he
elected to play in Russell Martin who sadly wasn’t expecting the ball.

Then from Simon Lappin’s 12th minute corner, Nelson’s downward header
was cleared off the line by Diagouraga.

Martin, obviously buoyed by the new contract he has just signed until
2013, had a strike from over 25 yards that was beyond the reach of
Szczesny, but the faintest of deflections off a defender took it
narrowly over the bar.

O’Connor and Tommy Smith needed treatment after both being felled by
Russell Martin’s clumsy challenge on the half-way line. The right back
received a lecture from referee Scott Rushton, although Brentford
wasted the free kick.

Another sweeping move from City in the 21st minute, saw Lappin’s pin-
point cross from the left, headed goal-wards by Drury, only to pushed
over the bar by Szczesny. Doherty could only put Lappin’s resulting
corner over the bar.

Fraser Forster brought a well-deserved cheer from the packed home
crowd, as he one-handed claimed O’Connor’s 28th minute corner.

Forster was alert in the 32nd minute to take a shot from Myles Weston,
after the striker had got in behind Nelson.

From a 34th minute corner that Szczesny could only punch out, Hoolahan
ran rings around the defence before teeing up Russell. Unfortunately
the midfielder’s shot didn’t match the skill of Hoolahan

In the 38th minute the referee harshly booked Russell, after he and
Marcus Bean challenged for the ball, although it was the Bees'
midfielder who pushed the City player. From the resulting corner, Tommy
Smith, on loan from Ipswich, could only put his free header on the roof
of the net!

Within three minutes Mr Rushton then amazed the Carrow Road faithful
even further when he showed Grant Holt the red card, for his tackle on
Diagouraga, who exaggerated the effect by staying down longer than
might have been expected.

HALF-TIME:  City 0 Brentford 0

Paul Lambert’s response to the sending off was to replace right back
Russell Martin, with new signing Zak Whitbread starting at the start of
the second half.
City bravely played with just three at the back, with Drury pushing up
into midfield.

The left back came very close to opening the scoring, but again
Szczesny reacted superbly to block Drury’s goal-bound header.

Forster had to perform the same heroics to push Dickson’s header
around the post, then he punched clear the resulting corner.

For the first time in the game Szczesny showed some nerves, spilling
Chris Martin’s drive from 20 yards, but it was a defender who got there
first to clear.

In the next minute Russell’s shot deflected out for a corner amid a
huge roar from the Barclay end, although Doherty could only direct
Lappin’s flag kick wide at the far post.

In the 60th minute Brentford made their first change, with ex City
player Carl Cort replacing Diagouraga.

The Bees' first player to be booked then followed, Bean for
deliberately holding onto the ball too long after City were awarded a
free kick. Disappointingly, although Chris Martin rose to meet Drury’s
ball in, he could only put his header well wide.

City survived a real scare in the 65th minute as first Sam Wood’s well
hit shot cannoned back of Forster’s left hand post although the City
keeper then recovered to save Cort’s follow up!

In the 69th minute Lambert brought on the fresh legs of Oli Johnson
for Hoolahan.

The Bees then threatened to sting City on the counter. But Doherty
bravely blocked an unmarked Wood as he cut in from the right before

Carrow Road erupted in the 77th minute as, against all the odds, ten-
man City took the lead. It owed everything to substitute Johnson who
went past two defenders before delivering the perfect ball for Chris
Martin. However, the 21-year-old still had to find a way past the
outstanding Szczesny, which he did with aplomb.

City didn’t sit back having taken the lead, and again it was Johnson
whose clever ball into the box, allowed Lappin to get goal-side of the
defence. From a narrow angle he could only hit the side netting.

At the other end Forster saved brilliantly low to his left as O’Connor’
s shot through a crowded penalty area, gave him very little time to
react. Surprisingly, Weston could only put the follow up shot wide of
the far post.

In the 85th minute of a pulsating game, Johnson was booked for an
innocuous challenge on Dickson.

On the stroke of 90 minutes O’Connor was shown the yellow card, as he
reacted angrily to the foul being given against him.

Twice in the four minutes of added time, Forster was alert to the
aerial threat of Brentford, calmly claiming the ball in the air, before
the referee ended the piercing whistles from the home fans to signal
full time.

FULL-TIME: City 1 Brentford 0


Forster (GK), Drury, Nelson, Doherty, Russell Martin (Whitbread 46),
Holt ©, Hoolahan (Johnson 69), Lappin, Russell, Smith. Chris Martin.

Unused Subs: Rudd (GK), Gill, Hughes, McNamee, McDonald.

Szczesny (GK), O’Connor ©, Dickson, Bean, Macdonald, Weston, Foster,
Wood, Diagouraga (Cort 59), Smith, Legge

Unused Subs: Price (GK), Phillips, Bennett, Hunt, Bostock, Strevens

City:  Martin (77)
Brentford:  None

City: Russell (38), Holt (Red 41), Drury (63), Johnson (85)
Brentford: Bean (61), O’Connor (90)

Referee:  Mr S Rushton

Attendance: 24,979