NORWICH, U.K. -- Second half goals from Andrew Surman and Anthony Pilkington handed Norwich City a deserved three points against Bolton Wanderers at Carrow Road.
Norwich came quickly out of the blocks but could not break down the Bolton resistance in the first half, and was forced to survive injury to both of its starting center backs on its way to keeping its second clean sheet of the season.
Surman followed up his own saved shot to break the deadlock before Pilkington sealed the points in similar fashion in the closing stages.
For Bolton, the afternoon proved a frustrating one as despite its recent good form it rarely tested Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy and dropped back into the relegation zone.
Paul Lambert named an adventurous Norwich starting XI, bringing Pilkington and Simeon Jackson into the side in place of Bradley Johnson and Steve Morison. Adam Drury returned at left back, with Russell Martin dropping to the bench.
Tyrone Mears made his first appearance of the season for Bolton since suffering a broken leg, with no other changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Arsenal. New signing Marvin Sordell was included among the substitutes.
Jackson was lively from the start for the Canaries, shooting across goal from the corner of the six-yard box and finding space behind the Bolton defense on more than one occasion. Grant Holt, too, was doing a fine job linking up the play and when he brought down Wes Hoolahan's cross from the right, Surman ran in on Adam Bodgan but crashed his shot against the crossbar from close range.
He will have been disappointed not to have scored but Surman was a driving force in midfield for the Canaries in the first half, not only tracking back to help left back Drury deal with the tricky Chris Eagles but also causing plenty of problems with his late runs into the opposition penalty area.
Norwich controlled most of the first half but its chances were dealt a serious blow when both of its center backs, Daniel Ayala and Zak Whitbread, were forced off due to injury within 20 minutes of each other. Martin was the natural choice to replace Ayala but Kyle Naughton was forced to switch to center back when Whitbread limped off, with Elliott Bennett also out of position at right back.
The forced changes undoubtedly affected the freedom with which it attacked, as Norwich ended the half in a more tentative manner. Bolton, while finding things more comfortable defensively and in possession, struggled to create chances, however, with Eagles its only real outlet on the right wing.
Lambert will have been keen to erase any doubts from his players' minds at the break and the early signs were good. Holt should have done much better with a cross from the left-hand side, heading across goal and missing the target. His header into the path of Jackson minutes later was better, but the Canadian shot wide from a tricky angle.
Hoolahan's energy was boundless and the feeling was that if Norwich was to find the breakthrough, it would come through either the Irishman or his midfield partner Surman, such was the effectiveness of their play together. After the former had fired just over the crossbar from distance, Surman got on the end of a Pilkington cross and slammed the ball into the roof of the net after his first effort had been blocked by David Wheater.
Bolton was forced to commit men forward in an effort to salvage the game and although it enjoyed more possession, Norwich began to look very threatening on the break. One such counterattack led to the corner with which it put the game to bed. Pilkington was on hand to convert from close range after Martin's shot had been well-saved by Bogdan.
That proved the killer blow for Bolton, as the Canaries continued to pour forward and could have added more goals on their way to a 2-0 victory that lifts them back up into the top half of the table.