Stoke 0 Norwich 1
Jonny Howson’s first-half strike steered Norwich to their second Barclays Premier League win of the season as they defeated Stoke 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
The Canaries took advantage of sloppy play from their opponents in the 34th minute as Howson collected the ball from Anthony Pilkington and beat Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who might have done better, from outside the box.
Norwich had already hit the crossbar through Ryan Bennett and were good value for their lead, with a shot from Marko Arnautovic that whistled just over being the closest a subdued Potters side came in the opening 45 minutes.
Stoke improved after the interval and looked unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Leroy Fer had a hand on Kenwyne Jones in the area, before Begovic pulled off a smart save to keep out a Robert Snodgrass shot.
With both clubs struggling for goals this season, a tight affair had been expected and Norwich boss Chris Hughton will be delighted to have emerged from the contest with all three points. They take his side – whose victory at Manchester City in May was their only other away league win in 2013 – to a total of seven points from six games this term, and up three places to 14th in the table.
They leapfrog Stoke, who are now 15th and also on seven points from six matches.
Norwich looked full of purpose from the off, with Pilkington bursting forward early on and unleashing a shot that Ryan Shawcross got in the way of.
Bennett struck the woodwork in the ninth minute with a sliding effort at the back post as he got the better of Shawcross from a corner, and the ball came back to the Canaries defender for a second attempt, but Begovic was able to gather.
There was a suspect moment for Begovic in the 17th minute as a delivery came across the box, with the goalkeeper failing to get anywhere near the ball as it appeared he was shoved to the ground by Michael Turner.
Stoke were unable to make anything of a corner at the other end, and in the 28th minute, Begovic looked unconvincing again as he came to catch a Pilkington cross. He collided with Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who was judged to have committed a foul, and saw the ball go wide of the post.
The hosts tried to step things up and Arnautovic sent a shot swerving just over the crossbar, but a minute later Norwich were in front.
The Potters lost possession from their own throw-in and then failed to close down as Pilkington teed up Howson, who fired in a shot that seemed to catch the diving Begovic by surprise.
Within five minutes Shawcross had a chance to equalise, but he could only head wide from Charlie Adam’s corner and Jones then slipped as he tried to meet a Geoff Cameron cross into the danger zone.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes tried to give his side some fresh impetus by bringing on Stephen Ireland and Jermaine Pennant for Adam and Jon Walters at the interval, and shortly after the break the Potters had a strong-looking spot-kick claim turned down when Jones appeared to be pulled back in the box by Fer.
Arnautovic then sent an ambitious attempt off-target, before Norwich began to probe again with the lively Pilkington striking wide and Snodgrass looping a shot over the bar.
Jones struck weakly towards the near post, with John Ruddy dropping on the ball, and the Stoke frontman was then replaced by Peter Crouch.
Steven Nzonzi drilled into Ruddy’s arms and Begovic then pulled off a great diving stop to keep out a curling strike from Snodgrass, the final really close effort of the game.