Premier League: Stoke 1 Norwich 0
Stoke City took a significant step towards Premier League survival with a vital 1-0 win over Norwich City at the Britannia Stadium.
Charlie Adam’s cool second-half strike was enough to secure victory for Tony Pulis’ side, easing any lingering relegation concerns.
The hosts made just one change from the side that won at QPR last week, with Andy Wilkinson replacing the injured Marc Wilson.
Meanwhile, Chris Hughton made two alterations to his team, replacing injured centre-back Michael Turner with Steven Whittaker, while Alexander Tettey was preferred over Elliott Bennett.
It was the visitors who looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the opening exchanges, and they created the game’s first chance after just six minutes when Robert Snodgrass headed over the bar after rising to meet a teasing cross from Russell Martin. Moments later, Bradley Johnson was unable to keep his shot down after a smart lay-off from Kei Kamara as Norwich pushed to open the scoring.
Stoke’s best chance of the half came 15 minutes later, when Cameron Jerome’s volley was blocked by Stephen N’Zonzi in the box, with referee Anthony Taylor waving away any suggestions of handball. And Jerome was involved in more controversy on the half-hour mark, going into the referee’s book for a high boot on Norwich keeper Mark Bunn.
The contest became more and more physical in the lead up to the break, with a total of four players receiving cautions, and chances few and far between.
The opening moments of the second half saw the hosts show more urgency, and they were rewarded for their endeavour just minutes after the restart.
Adam burst into the box from midfield to control Peter Crouch’s flick-on, before slotting home a composed finish. And the former Liverpool player could have been on the scoresheet again just moments later, seeing a low 20-yard strike deflected wide.
The hosts began to take control of the game and could have doubled their lead just before the hour mark, with Jerome inches away from connecting with a whipped Adam free-kick.
Norwich received another let-off several minutes later when Peter Crouch mistimed a half-volley in the six-yard box.
The visitors struggled to trouble the home defence, with Hughton throwing on Wes Hoolahan on 67 minutes in an attempt to unlock the Stoke back four. But Kei Kamara's header, which flew just over the bar in stoppage time, summed up a difficult afternoon for the visitors.
The result takes Stoke up to 12th with 40 points while Norwich fall to 14th.