MORLEY-born Jonny Howson returned to haunt his boyhood club Leeds United by bagging Norwich City’s opener in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win at Elland Road.
Howson played 225 games for the Whites and was netting on his first outing at the ground since being sold by Leeds in January 2012.
The former Churwell Lions junior chose not to celebrate his goal with the midfielder offering a raised hand to the south stand by way of an apology.
His clincial strike in the face of non-existent marking kept Norwich second in the Championship but extended United’s dismal recent run to four losses in succession and one point out of their last 15.
Leeds, who sit 15th, now have three games to try and finish on some sort of high, starting with Saturday’s clash at Charlton Athletic.
Norwich were dominant and also missed a first-half penalty through Graham Dorrans who made amends by bagging the away side’s second in injury time.
United head coach Neil Redfearn made three changes to the side that were defeated 2-1 at home to Cardiff on Saturday, including giving a Whites debut to French loanee midfielder Granddi Ngoyi.
Ngoyi had not played competitively since his outing for parent club Palermo on November 24 with the 26-year-old continually frustrated by injury.
He came in for teenage star Kalvin Phillips while Redfearn swapped Billy Sharp for Mirco Antenucci upfront as Liam Cooper also replaced Giuseppe Bellusci at centre-back.
United approached the game following three successive defeats and one point in 12 while Norwich entered the contest having won four in a row and having lost just one of their last 14 - 11 of which had resulted in victory.
Bettering Bournemouth’s result at Reading would have taken them top but they were without the suspended former Whites midfielder Bradley Johnson and Redfearn sought a way to unlock the Canaries by switching Sam Byram and Charlie Taylor around, with Taylor on the right flank and Byram on the left.
It was from the left flank that United created their first half chance as a long cross from Liam Cooper almost found Sharp.
At the other end, former United star Jonny Howson broke into the Leeds box but his low cross was well cut out by Marco Silvestri.
A pacy but rather chance-free opening threatened to go up a gear on 18 minutes when Martin Olsson bundled over Bryam on the edge of the box but Alex Mowatt’s curling free-kick was headed clear.
But Leeds were generally doing the pressing and Russell Martin miscued a header at the back though John Ruddy took the ball in the air before Sharp could nod it into the net.
City’s Olsson was then booked for dissent after arguing with the linesman but Norwich can have no arguments that they then missed two gilt-edged chances just after the half hour mark.
First the Canaries were awarded a 31st-minute penalty as Cooper was found guilty of wrestling Howson to the ground.
Graham Dorrans stepped up to take the spot kick but his effort cannoned back off the crossbar to the huge cheers of the Elland Road faithful with referee Michael Jones then awarding a Leeds free-kick in the box allowing the Whites to clear.
Then, just two minutes later, the Canaries had another fine chance to take the lead when a squared ball found the on-rushing Dorrans again but his effort was even higher than his penalty and sailed into the crowd.
Leeds had been let off twice and then went reasonably close themselves when Luke Murphy’s free-kick was headed by Steven Whittaker on to the roof of the net.
Alex Tettey then became the second Norwich player into the notebook for a foul on Byram and Leeds finished the half in the ascendency with either the final pass or a linesman’s flag halting their progress.
Norwich were then awarded a controversial 44th-minute free-kick for Sol Bamba’s foul on Jerome which Jerome blasted into the wall and a fine interception from Bamba then prevented Jerome being through on goal in the first minute of injury time.
United themselves were then awarded a free-kick in a similar position one minute later but Murphy also blasted into the wall and that was the cue for half-time drinks.
Both sides threatened with corners at the start of the second period but it was Norwich who were looking increasingly dangerous.
Nathan Redmond was released with acres of space down the left flank and only a decent tackle from Bamba spared United and moments later Silvestri produced a fine save at stretch to deny a Russell Martin effort squeezing in the corner.
Leeds hit back with a counter attack that came to nothing but Norwich then went mightily close once more when Tettey’s rising effort from 20 yards whacked the stanchion behind the goal.
And just two minutes later the Canaries deservedly took a 57th-minute lead when that man Howson was fed totally unmarked inside the Whites area.
The 26-year-old still had to produce the finish and did so coolly, curling the ball past into Silvestri’s right hand corner.
Howson chose not to celebrate and later raised a hand to the south stand by way of an apology but United immediately had a chance to level when Scott Wootton cut into the area but his shot was deflected over.
And Norwich resumed by looking for a killer second - the Canaries looking in total control with Redfearn seeking inspiration from Mirco Antenucci, brought on for Taylor with 19 minutes to go.
The Canaries continued to press with Steven Whittaker shooting wide and Bamba later clearing off the line.
Hopes were then slightly raised when Antenucci won an 83rd-minute corner which was headed out to Mowatt who produced a trademark curler from range that was brilliantly kept out by Ruddy.
Redfearn then introduced Brian Montenegro for Byram with five minutes left as Norwich withdrew Redmond for Gary Hooper.
And despite a late Leeds rally the damage was done with only another brilliant Bamba tackle preventing a fine chance for Jerome in the final minute.
Yet the Canaries would still add a second in the second minute of injury time when Dorrans slotted home after good work from Jerome.
The strike sparked mass celebrations in the away dug out but an exodus at Elland Road where United’s fantastic run at the start of 2015 now seems a distant memory.
LEEDS UNITED: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Berardi, Murphy, Ngoyi, Mowatt, C Taylor (Antenucci 71), Byram (Montegro 85), Sharp. Subs: S Taylor, Bellusci, Phillips, Sloth, Morison.
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Olsson; Tettey, Dorrans, Howson; Redmond (Hooper 86), Hoolahan (E Bennett 79), Jerome. Subs: Rudd, Grabban, R Bennett, O’Neil, Odjidja-Ofoe.
REFEREE: Michael Jones.
ATTENDANCE: 21,471 (2,125 Norwich).