Norwich City left to rely on the charity of others

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Charlie Adam fires Stoke into the lead against NorwichGettyImagesCharlie Adam fires Stoke into the lead against Norwich

It says everything about Norwich's labours at Stoke that the best news of the afternoon came in Lancashire.

Wigan's late concession to draw at home to Tottenham ensured a desperately anaemic display from the Canaries in a 1-0 Premier League reverse at the Britannia was not compounded by their direct rivals profiting elsewhere from their miserable efforts.

Wigan are now six points adrift of the Canaries with four league games left in the battle to avoid accompanying QPR and Reading out of the top flight. It was a sad indictment Norwich were indebted to Spurs' late leveller at the DW Stadium after failing to directly influence their own destiny.

- Whittaker: Stoke all but safe
- Stoke 'still have work to do'

Charlie Adam's sharp finish, following an archetypal Stoke raid that centred around Peter Crouch's aerial prowess, barely a minute after the restart settled a predictably drab affair. Chris Hughton's men rarely threatened to trouble Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to prolong a struggle for survival that now increasingly hinges on their final home games against Aston Villa and West Brom. Should Hughton's men still require anything from a final day trip to the dethroned champions, Manchester City, then you would seriously fear for the Canaries' Premier League future.

Wigan's late concession still leaves Norwich favourably placed, but they seem determined to put their long-suffering supporters through further agonies.

Hughton's caution has ensured the Canaries remain an obdurate barrier to overcome for the majority of a testing Premier League campaign. When they add an economical threat from the counter it has proved a profitable policy, but on days like this when the Canaries are breached they looked incapable of mustering a response.

Norwich's travails in Staffordshire bore an uncanny echo of their recent league trip to Wigan, when a point looked the sum total of their ambitions until Aroune Kone slammed home a late winner for the Latics.

Stoke were only marginally better but in Adam they had the most potent weapon on the pitch. The former Liverpool midfielder has endured a difficult debut season in the Potteries but the match-winning goal and the celebrations said everything about his value to the home cause. Crouch rose imperiously to flick on a deep ball out of defence and Sebastien Bassong was suitably distracted by Cameron Jerome to allow Adam to control and smack in one fluid movement from close range.

Crouch kicked fresh air from barely four yards out shortly after with Stoke sensing a kill against a wounded opponent. This followed Bassong's ill-advised attempts to launch an attack from deep which ended with him trapped in a pincer movement from Adam and Jerome.

Hughton introduced Wes Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett to try and spark the visitors. Stoke retreated to protect their slender advantage but Norwich's final delivery was routinely plucked from the air by the commanding Begovic. Norwich played like a team low on ideas and creativity. They will need to dredge some inspiration to overcome either Villa or West Brom on home turf. The alternative is far too unpalatable to contemplate.

ESPN Conversations