Ashton wins it for Norwich

Norwich City 2 Newcastle United 1

Substitute Patrick Kluivert looked to have denied the hosts when his last-minute goal cancelled out a stunning 35-yard strike from Youssef Safri midway through the second half.

However, Norwich who remain bottom of the table, but now two points behind 17th-placed West Brom threw everything forward and Ashton headed in Thomas Helveg's cross to condemn Newcastle to a fourth straight defeat.

The visitors, though, had been inches away from taking an early lead after just six minutes. Jean Alain Boumsong's long ball into the box was missed by Norwich defenders Jason Shackell and Craig Fleming, allowing Alan Shearer to collect and turn at the near post, before drilling a low effort right across goal and only just wide.

In the 15th minute, Darren Huckerby swung over a teasing cross along the six-yard line, which just eluded McKenzie. After 21 minutes, there was an horrendous miss from former England captain Shearer.

Laurent Robert's free-kick from the right was swept goalwards, with the ball bouncing right through to Robert Green.

The Norwich goalkeeper then inexplicably fumbled on his line, and the loose ball was dropped at Shearer's feet, no more than a yard out but somehow the Newcastle skipper stabbed it wide with his left foot.

After 30 minutes, though, David Bentley finally managed a decent cross into the danger area from the right, but it was just too high for Ashton to steer on target at the back post.

Shearer got much better contact on a 20-yard drive a couple of minutes later, but Green was able to beat the effort clear.

In the 34th minute, Newcastle looked to have a clear penalty turned down when Norwich full-back Adam Drury brought down James Milner as he slid in to make a challenge on the byline. Referee Andre Marriner was, though, unimpressed along with his assistant only yards away from the incident down the right channel.

It was all Newcastle now, and only a fine reaction save from Green prevented Robert firing them ahead with his first-time effort, coming in at the back post from Stephen Carr's deep right-wing cross.

The Frenchman was then unable to slot home the rebound off the goalkeeper's legs, sending the ball high into the crowd behind the goal.

In first-half stoppage time, Shay Given managed to get just enough on Francis' back-post header to keep the ball out.

Norwich made a change at the restart, Huckerby who had not been running freely was replaced by Sweden winger Mattias Jonson. After 55 minutes, a deep free-kick from the left into the Newcastle six-yard box caused all sorts of problems as Ashton out-jumped Andy O'Brien at the back post, with Francis eventually sending his half-volley over the bar as the ball dropped awkwardly for him on the penalty spot.

As the hour-mark approached, Robert twisted his way into the left side of the Norwich penalty area, before a low centre across the six-yard box was guided just the wrong side of the near post by Shola Ameobi.

A fine move between Helveg and Bentley down the right then resulted in the on-loan Arsenal midfielder chipping a perfectly-weighted, angled ball into the penalty box, where Francis got his timing all wrong and sent a poor header well off-target.

Norwich knew only a win would realistically keep their slim hopes of survival alive and they took a crucial lead with a stunning 35-yard strike from Safri in the 68th minute. There appeared no danger when Drury slid the ball sideways to the Moroccan just inside the Newcastle half. The midfielder, though, took one touch before firing an unstoppable drive past Given right into the top corner.

Kluivert, on for Ameobi, looked to have rescued a point for the visitors when he pounced on a loose ball in the box to net a low drive.

But Norwich were not to be denied as Helveg sent over a last-gasp cross

into the Newcastle box, which Ashton headed in for a dramatic winner.

NORWICH: Green, Helveg, Fleming, Shackell, Drury, Bentley (Holt 89), Safri, Francis, Huckerby (Jonson 45), McKenzie (Svensson 82), Ashton.

NEWCASTLE: Given, Carr, Boumsong, Andrew O'Brien, Elliott, Milner (Ambrose 63), Butt, N'Zogbia, Robert, Shearer, Ameobi (Kluivert 76).

Referee: A Marriner (W Midlands).

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