Norwich topple Brighton thanks to two own goals from goalkeeper David Stockdale
Norwich beat newly promoted Brighton 2-0 on Friday night despite not managing a shot on target, with visiting goalkeeper David Stockdale scoring two own goals.
The Seagulls stopper twice dived to try to keep out well-stuck first-half shots from Alex Pritchard, and twice the efforts came back off the woodwork, hit the luckless keeper and rebounded back into the net.
The goals – in the 18th and 39 minutes – ended any hope Chris Hughton’s side had of confirming top spot in the Sky Bet Championship on Friday evening, having clinched promotion on Easter Monday, but they still have two more chances to get the three points they require.
For the Canaries, it was another reminder of what might have been, following the poor mid-season run that ended their hopes of promotion and cost Alex Neil, who was back at Carrow Road as a TV pundit, his job.
Both sides had chances to get their noses in front in a lively start to the game.
Norwich striker Nelson Oliveira was guilty of a bad miss as he failed to get on the end of a low cross from Jonny Howson, while at the other end Anthony Knockaert saw a shot deflected just wide before missing the target with a close-range header.
A goal was coming and it arrived on 18 minutes when Pritchard answered the Brighton boo-boys in the best possible fashion.
The diminutive midfielder, who pulled out of a move to the Seagulls to join Norwich last year, sent a rising drive crashing against the bar after good work from Josh Murphy, and was soon celebrating as the ball came off the back of the diving Stockdale and bounced back into the net.
Steven Naismith then sent a header just over as a fired-up Norwich side continued to have the better of it, although it took a superb reaction save from John Ruddy to prevent Uwe Hunemeier equalising with a flicked header from Oliver Norwood’s cross.
Norwich deservedly doubled their lead on 39 minutes, with history incredibly repeating itself. This time Pritchard tried his luck from 20 yards after the hosts had worked the ball across the edge of the area and, when his effort came back of the upright, it once again deflected back in off the diving Stockdale.
Pritchard wasted a decent chance to finally get his name on the scoresheet eight minutes into the second half when he delayed his shot too long after a swift counter-attack.
Brighton were still very much in the game and it took a goal-line block from Howson to keep out Glenn Murray’s header a couple of minutes later before Ruddy parried a powerful snap-shot from Murray, but the visitors could not find a way through.