A SPIRITED City were on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Alan Pardew's Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena.
The Canaries fell behind to a Papiss Cisse goal as early as the 11th minute, but put on a good attacking display throughout the game to test the Magpies. Both goalkeepers kept their side in the game most noteably from a Canaries' perspective Tim
Krul pulling off two great second-half saves to deny both Anthony Pilkington and Zak Whitbread an equaliser City's display so richly deserved.
On his team's performance City boss Paul Lambert commented: "I'm obviously disappointed with the result but I can't be disappointed with the performance the lads have put in there.
"I thought we passed the ball well and worked hard. We went to sleep a bit for their goal although it was a lovely finish from the lad, but after that I thought we got a real foothold in the game. It's no easy place to come Newcastle, Alan's got them playing really well at the moment and there's a big crowd and a lot of atmosphere. But I felt our lads took that on and at times we were in control.
"If we keep the performances at that level then we'll be all right, although, as I say, to lose today was disappointing, as losing always is to us."
City saw four changes from the side who drew 1-1 with Wigan last weekend. After a substitute appearance against the Latics Steve Morison started up front in place of Grant Holt who dropped to the bench. Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett also made a return with Jonny Howson making his second start for the Club having missed last Sunday due to illness. With Holt on the bench Elliott Ward was named captain.
Ahead of the game there was a period of applause in support of Bolton's Fabrice Muamba who was critically ill after collapsing in the FA Cup match with Tottenham Hotspur the day before.
In the second minute of the game Cisse found himself in space and onside deep inside City's half, but his attempted lob over John Ruddy wasn't strong enough and the City 'keeper reached up and took control of the ball.
The Canaries were passing it around quite nicely and Howson broke through midfield on eight minutes only to be halted by Mike Williamson who conceded a free-kick centrally in his half. This was swiftly followed by a Newcastle attack in which Cabaye put in a dangerous ball from the left into the Canaries' penalty area, but luckily behind all in black and white shirts and allowing Surman to clear his lines.
But on 11 minutes the Magpies were ahead, as Cisse fired them into a 1-0 lead, just getting in front of Whitbread to meet a cross from Gutierrez on the left with a quality finish.
Midway through the half saw City's best spell of the game so far - Tim Krul had to be alert to collect Elliott Bennett's teasing cross after some good City approach play through midfield. And the Canaries also then worked Howson a good shooting chance after Williamson was pressured off the ball, unfortunately his effort was always rising too high.
Just before the half-hour Newcastle went close again, Cabaye and Ba combining to force Ruddy into a finger tip stop round his far post.
The Magpies had a penalty appeal turned down on 32 minutes as they shouted that Bennett had blocked Danny Guthrie's cross with his arm, but referee Phil Dowd waved away appeals.
With six minutes of the half left to play Naughton was forced to make an important block from Ben Arfa's cross with Ba ready to pounce. And after Gutierrez released Cisse into City's area Ruddy pulled off another great save to deny Newcastle a second goal.
City won a corner after Jonny Howson's low shot was deflected wide, and the Canaries put the hosts under pressure in the final minute after Bennett's good cross from the right was not cleared by Danny Simpson, Surman's effort on the rebound flashed just wide of the goal.
Half-time: Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
Both teams were unchanged at the break and in the opening exchanges Ben Arfa had a wayward shot and Jonny Howson hit an effort high over the goal after being released through by David Fox.
Another good move five minutes in saw Drury in acres of space on the left giving him time to place a dangerous cross into the penalty area, unfortunately the Newcastle defence was equal to it and cleared their lines.
On 54 minutes City had two great chances for an equaliser, Krul denying City twice - firstly Pilkington with a shot from the left, then Whitbread's header from the resulting corner saw the Dutch international tip his effort over the bar.
On the hour Ba flashed a shot just wide of City's goal, which was swiftly followed by a Canary attack down the left, Drury again providing an outlet and his cross led to a chance for Surman but he was unfortunately pushed out wide and he could only cut the ball back and there was no one in a green shirt to slot it home.
The first substitution of the match came on 63 minutes for Newcastle, Ben Arfa replaced by Davide Santon.
City continued to press forward but were just missing that little bit of luck in the final third to get the equaliser their display was warranting.
Alan Pardew made a change up front with 20 minutes remaining, Shola Ameobi coming on for Papiss Cisse.
Newcastle went close to extending their lead on 72 minutes but blocks by Ward and Ruddy denied Ba from getting onto the scoresheet.
Four minutes later Newcastle made their final change Guthrie replaced by Dan Gosling. And this was swiftly followed by City's first substitution Grant Holt coming on for Jonny Howson.
With eight minutes left another change to the Canaries midfield saw Wes Hoolahan coming on in place of Adam Drury, and Russell Martin swiftly followed for Pilkington.
City were doing all that they could to press for that precious equaliser as well as contain the ever-present threat of Ba and Ameobi. Surman tried an overhead kick to meet Elliott Bennett's cross and then the best chance fell to Morison who was through on goal but couldn't get enough on his shot to see it past Krul.
The final action of the game saw Whitbread block Ba's shot to deny the Newcastle man.
Final score: Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
NEWCASTLE: Krul, Coloccini (c), Cabaye, Simpson, Williamson, Guthrie (Gosling 76), Cisse (Ameobi 69), Ben Arfa (Santon 63), Perch, Gutierrez, Ba. Subs not used: Elliot, Abeid, Vuckic, Donaldson.
CITY: Ruddy, Drury (Hoolahan 82), Morison, Whitbread, Surman, Pilkington (Martin 85), Fox, E. Bennett, Ward (c), Howson (Holt 77), Naughton. Subs not used: Steer, Johnson, Crofts, Jackson.