Premier League: Stoke City 0 Norwich City 1
By Football News
Jonny Howson's first-half goal gave Norwich City just their second win of the Premier League season with a 1-0 triumph at Stoke City.
Both sides headed into Sunday's game at the Britannia Stadium without a win in their last two top-flight contests, with Norwich boss Chris Hughton under fire in some circles following their defeat to Aston Villa last weekend.
The visitors had scored just three goals in their previous five league encounters, but they needed just one to seal the points against Mark Hughes' men.
And it was Howson who proved to be the difference, the former Leeds United midfielder netting with a long-range strike after 34 minutes to send the travelling fans home happy.
Hughes selected the same side that slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal last time out, but opposite number Hughton elected to ring the changes.
Ryan Bennett replaced the injured Sebastien Bassong in the centre of defence, while Martin Olsson, Alexander Tettey and Anthony Pilkington came in for Javier Garrido, Nathan Redmond and Johan Elmander.
Norwich started quickly, and should have taken the lead after nine minutes, Bennett crashing a strike against the crossbar after meeting Olsson's corner.
The visitors dictated the game from midfield throughout the first half, but Stoke were solid in defence and did not allow Hughton's men much in the way of attacking openings.
It took Stoke over half an hour to create their first goalscoring opportunity, Austrian attacker Marko Arnautovic lashing over from the edge of the area.
However, less than a minute later, Norwich took the lead their play deserved, Howson finding space in midfield before firing home with a swerving low effort that deceived a despairing Asmir Begovic.
Jermaine Pennant replaced Jonathan Walters at the interval as Stoke searched for a way back into the game, and the hosts were aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty after Kenwyne Jones was pulled back in the area by Leroy Fer.
Still it was Norwich who continued to create the better opportunities, with Pilkington firing wide with a speculative effort from range before Robert Snodgrass curled a left-footed effort over the bar.
Jones went close for Stoke as the Trinidad and Tobago international began to cause the Norwich backline problems but, despite his best efforts, Hughes' side were unable to really threaten John Ruddy's goal.
The game became more open in the closing stages as Steven N'Zonzi tested Ruddy from distance, before Snodgrass forced Begovic into a fine save.
Howson's strike was to be enough, however, as Norwich comfortably held on to ensure a much-needed victory.