City's pre-season tour of Sweden got off to a winning, but lacklustre start after they narrowly overcame fourth tier outfit Ahlafors IF 2-1 at the Sjovallen stadium.
To be fair, it was a one-sided contest from start to finish but the lack of ticks in the goals for column will give Glenn Roeder cause for concern ? even this early in proceedings.
Substitute Korey Smith's cross met the head of fellow bench-warmer Jamie Cureton in the final minute to secure a late, late victory but the sight of Jason Shackell limping off just after half-time will also be a concern to the City management staff.
But in terms of fitness, it was an excellent workout for the Canaries and with their opponents in the middle of their domestic season, they were matched yard for yard in terms of pitch coverage, even if the difference in quality was plain to see.
City sprung a surprise in the starting line-up with French trialist Chris Makiese coming in for a start alongside Chris Martin up front. The 20-year-old Lille striker – who has made a handful of starts for the Ligue 1 outfit in the past two seasons – will be hoping to impress. After all, two striking slots are still up for grabs as August 9 and a date at the Ricoh Arena edges ever nearer.
Today's fixture came a little too early for the two latest additions to the squad, Dejan Stefanovic and Elliot Omosuzi.
The England youth defender, who is expected to challenge Jon Otsemobor for the right-back slot this season, is in Scandinavia training with the squad but Stefanovic is not expected to travel out to join his new team-mates.
Wes Hoolahan ? fresh from his stunning debut in the 8-1 thrashing of Gorleston on Wednesday night ? was also absent with the thigh problem that forced him off in the latter stages at Emerald Park.
And another senior player, Adam Drury, also failed to make the City squad this afternoon but Roeder revealed afterwards that he is likely to play some part in their second tour game against Falkenbergs FF on Tuesday.
It was, however, a more experienced line-up than the one in midweek, with preparations slowly stepping up a gear and Lee Croft, Mark Fotheringham and Robert Eagle all came in for their first appearances of the summer.
Early on in the match, it was typical pre-season fare, and with the backdrop of a stunning lakeside setting, it took a while for City to find their feet. But after 11 minutes, the tourists had their first chance ? and first goal.
Lee Croft brought the ball forward from midfield and threaded a perfectly weighted ball through to new-boy Makiese, who chipped beautifully over the 'keeper to make an early impression on Roeder and Co.
But not even a minute had passed and Ahlafors were level after some sloppy play in the Canary area. Gary Doherty was caught napping and after a goalmouth scramble, Tobias Emback prodded home.
It was one-way traffic after the equaliser though and on 18 minutes, the impressive Jon Otsemobor's driving run and shot was well saved.
Two minutes later and a Matty Pattison free-kick met the head of Shackell, but his header was well over the Ahlafors bar.
City were dominating against the Swedish outfit and after 29 minutes, a perfectly executed pass from Pattison found it's way through to Martin who should have done better from eight yards out.
A while later, Makiese took the ball down well from a Fotheringham pass and in turn, played in Croft who shot wide again.
Bar the odd half-chance for the home side, it was all City and the hardy band of 150 or so travelling fans would have been disappointed to see them go in level at half-time.
The second-half started much the way of the first ? slowly.
It took 12 minutes for the Canaries to fashion their first attempt on goal and it almost got Roeder's men back in front when Pattison's strong run and resulting shot was well saved.
On 65, Doherty made the 'keeper work again but it was well held and it was turning into a familiar story ? plenty of chances, but not much net-bulging.
A minute later, Martin, who was struggling to get a foothold on the game, shot over after good work from Makiese – who was looking sharp in his first appearance in City colours.
It was the turn of Croft next ? who was City's most industrious performer by far ? but his run and shot was again saved by Ahlafors 'stopper Stefan Johannson.
It was embarrassingly one-sided, but the Canaries were not making Johannson work hard enough for all the chances they were creating.
Then, up stepped Cureton in the dying moments to ensure they had a victory to show for their efforts as they prepare to travel south to face Falkenbergs on Tuesday night.
City (4-4-2): Marshall (Nelson 45); Otsemobor, Doherty, Shackell (Russell 50), Eagle (Chadwick 60); Croft (Smith 86), Fotheringham (C), Clingan, Pattison; Martin (Cureton 69), Makiese. Subs not used: Lathrope, Spillane.
Man-of-the-match: Lee Croft
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