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Norwich City 2-1 Plymouth Argyle: Canaries come from behind to strengthen play-off hopes

Josh Sargent celebates scoring for Norwich City
Josh Sargent levelled the match in the second half with his ninth goal in his last 10 matches for Norwich City [PA Media]

Norwich City strengthened their position in the Championship play-off places with a 2-1 victory over Plymouth Argyle at Carrow Road.

The Canaries had gone behind after 10 minutes when Morgan Whittaker headed in his 19th Championship goal of the season.

Two goals in seven second-half minutes from Josh Sargent and an Ashley Phillips own-goal set up victory for David Wagner's side, their seventh consecutive home victory.

The result sees Norwich remain in sixth but extends their advantage over the sides outside the play-off places to four points. Plymouth drop to 20th but stay two points clear of the relegation zone.

Plymouth went into the game having only won twice on the road in the Championship all season.

Having beaten Middlesbrough in their last away match, they gave themselves the best possible chance of a third away league victory inside 10 minutes. Matty Sorinola crossed from the right side to find Whittaker unmarked in the penalty area, and he squirmed his low header past Angus Gunn.

Norwich had dominated for much of the game, despite conceding early on. Their closest chances in the first half both came via American striker Sargent. He first saw a volley at the end of a corner blocked on to the post by Alfie Devine before a cross from Gabriel Sara evaded him. Had it found Sargent, it would have been a tap-in to equalise.

Before the break, Argyle should have doubled their lead. Whittaker played striker Ryan Hardie through on goal but, despite doing the hard part by taking the ball around Gunn, he was unable to finish from a tight angle.

Norwich's fortunes changes in the second half when Christian Fassnacht was introduced off the bench. His corner, 10 minutes after replacing Marcelino Nunez, found the run of Sargent at the near post and the striker fired into the roof of the net for his ninth goal in his last 10 matches for the Canaries.

Another corner resulted in Norwich turning the match fully around seven minutes later. Sara's delivery found the head of Sam McCallum, whose flick-on beat goalkeeper Mike Cooper after a deflection off Tottenham loanee centre-back Ashley Phillips.

Norwich could have made their victory more emphatic when Sara's long range free-kick was denied by Cooper and, on the follow up, Fassnacht was unable to turn his header into an empty net.

Defeat for Plymouth continues to pile the pressure head coach Ian Foster, who has won just four of his 16 matches in charge of the Pilgrims since replacing Steven Schumacher in January.

Plymouth Argyle head coach Ian Foster told BBC Radio Devon:

"In terms of the performance, loads of positives to take from it and we accept responsibility for not taking the lead when we had opportunities to do that.

"I'm very disappointed with the referee's performance in the game. I got a sense in the first half that he would have a say in it. Unfortunately, I was proved right. He's got loads of decisions wrong in the game, I'm sure he'll be very disappointed with his performance if he looks back on it.

"Two huge key incidents, among others, that he got wrong and when you look at the penalty decision not to give Lewis Gibson a penalty - and the PGMOL say to us 'yes, we got that one wrong', Ryan Hardie against Preston 'yep, we got that one wrong'. When does it stop? All we're asking them to do is make the right decisions. Stop sending us letters saying 'we got that one wrong' and make the right call."

Norwich City boss David Wagner told BBC Radio Norfolk:

"I think in the first half, the performance was okay without being ruthless in the opponents box. I think we have to have the lead in the first half with how we played and how [many] good box entries we had but we have to be more clinical in these situations.

"[In the] second half, I don't think we played as well as we did in the first half, but then we were ruthless, especially with set plays and our set play routines.

"Then we have to be honest, Gunny (Angus Gunn) made some unbelievable saves and he has to be my player of the match today because he kept us in very important moments in the game.

"All in all, it's good to come back from 1-0 down. A great shift, the players kept going, kept believing, but it was maybe not the performance which we've produced in recent games. To come from behind gives us an energy boost."