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Football: Subdued Stoke punished by Norwich

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Norwich City hauled themselves away from the Premier League relegation zone and claimed only their second away win of 2013 with a 1-0 success at Stoke City on Sunday.

Midfielder Jonathan Howson claimed the game's only goal 11 minutes before half-time on a sunny afternoon at the Britannia Stadium with a powerful shot from outside the penalty area.

Victory took Chris Hughton's side up to 14th place in the table, level on points with Stoke, who have now gone three games without victory.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes kept faith with the 11 players who started in last weekend's 3-1 defeat at Arsenal, with Kenwyne Jones retaining his place up front at the expense of Peter Crouch.

Norwich made four changes to the team beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa in their last outing, with Ryan Bennett, Martin Olsson, Alexander Tettey and Anthony Pilkington all drafted into the starting XI.

Bennett almost made an immediate impact in the ninth minute, sliding in at the back post to volley a right-wing corner against the crossbar and then seeing his follow-up effort blocked by home goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Stoke were unusually subdued and they fell behind in the 34th minute when Howson gathered a pass from Pilkington and, with defenders backing off, drove a dipping shot into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards.

In response, Ryan Shawcross headed wide from a Charlie Adam corner, but their lack of cutting edge prompted Hughes to introduce Stephen Ireland and Jermaine Pennant from the bench at half-time.

The home side had a penalty appeal turned down early in the second half when Leroy Fer appeared to hold back Jones, who was then thwarted by John Ruddy after brilliantly weaving past three Norwich defenders.

It was Jones's last contribution, with Crouch sent on in his place in the 66th minute.

Stoke's fans had to wait until the 79th minute to see their team muster an effort on target, but Steven Nzonzi's speculative shot was comfortably fielded by Ruddy.

The visitors might have even added a second, but Begovic repelled a curling attempt by Robert Snodgrass with a flying finger-tip save.

bur-thw/pi

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130929/football-subdued-stoke-punished-norwich