REVIEW: CITY 2-0 BARNSLEY
NORWICH City produced an efficient display to earn a deserved 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Barnsley at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Largely in control for long periods, Alan Irvine's side crucially struck just before the interval when Jacob Murphy angled a low drive into the corner after fine work from Cameron Jerome.
City continued to press for much of the second half, threatening to add a second on a number of occasions with Steven Naismith among those to go close.
They did eventually get a second goal on 72 minutes, neat build-up play culminating in Murphy's strike being parried by Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies only for the ball to inadvertently bounce off defender Angus MacDonald and into the net.
That wrapped up a relatively routine victory for the Canaries, with one downside being the first half loss of Wes Hoolahan to injury going into the international break.
HOW THEY LINED UP
Alan Irvine made two changes from the side which started last weekend's 2-2 draw against Blackburn Rovers, with one of those enforced.
Mitchell Dijks began a three-game suspension following his red card in that match, with Steven Whittaker stepping up to replace him at left-back.
Further up the field, Jacob Murphy came in for twin brother Josh Murphy, operating from the right-flank with Alex Pritchard central following his early withdrawal in the the previous game following Dijks' dismissal.
On the bench, Irvine was able to welcome back three players; Graham Dorrans, Nelson Oliveira and Timm Klose all returning to the fold having each been sidelined for varying lengths of time through injury.
The first half had mostly been a low-key affair, with neither side really able to carve out many meaningful clear-cut opportunities.
Of those chances, the best had gone the way of the hosts; Alex Pritchard threatening when he skidded a bouncing effort narrowly wide of the post.
Finding a way to go into the interval in front was therefore of optimum importance, and City did it just moments before the half-time whistle through Jacob Murphy.
The winger found himself in space to meet Cameron Jerome's ball across the area, displaying composure to pick his spot as he angled a low drive beyond Barnsley's Adam Davies.
That gave the Canaries the goal they needed, setting Alan Irvine's side up for the second half.
WHAT IT MEANS
While the task of reaching the Sky Bet Championship play-offs still looks a tough one, City did their cause no harm at all with this victory at Carrow Road.
The win closed the gap to the top six with just eight games of the regular season now remaining, opening up the possibility of a late push up the table for the Canaries.
GOALS: Canaries: Jacob Murphy (44), MacDonald (O.G., 72).
NORWICH CITY: McGovern; Pinto, Bennett, Martin (c), Whittaker; Tettey, Howson; Ja. Murphy (Dorrans, 83), Pritchard, Hoolahan (Naismith, 30); Jerome (Oliveira, 83). Subs not used: Ruddy (GK), Klose, Wildschut, Jo. Murphy.
BARNSLEY: Davies; Roberts (c), MacDonald, Scowen, Hammill (Hedges, 81), Watkins (Mowatt, 78), Yiadom, Bradshaw, Jones, Armstrong (Kent, 56), James. Subs not used: Townsend (GK), Moncur, Jackson, Janko.
REFEREE: Darren Bond
City have a fortnight's break before their next fixture, which takes them Villa Park to face Aston Villa on Saturday, April 1.
As a small gesture of gratitude for the fans' superb support this season, the Club are subsidising tickets for this match.