Norwich City U18s 1 Birmingham City U18s 3 – Canaries miss out on Youth Cup semi-final against Chelsea
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Missed chances in the first half proved pivotal for Norwich City U18s at a snow-bound Carrow Road this evening, costing an FA Youth Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea.
The visitors scored three goals in the second half to take complete control, making a late strike from Anthony Spyrou nothing but a consolation.
City boss David Wright made three changes, Fergal Hale-Brown starting in goal after U16s keeper Dante Baptiste had covered an injury crisis in the last round. Atli Barkarson also replaced fellow Icelandic midfielder Isak Thorvaldsson and Finlay Barnes came in for injured winger Jaden Thompson-Brissett.
The visitors had beaten Bristol City, Sheffield United and Bury to reach the last eight and dictated much of the opening 10 minutes.
Right winger Alan Fleming finally injected some urgency for Norwich, with striker Adam Idah winning a corner, but Timi Odusina couldn't quite get his head on skipper Alfie Payne's delivery.
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Lovely control from Spyrou in the 12th minute set Idah through but Blues defender Joe Redmond tackled back well and the resulting corner came to nothing.
The Canaries had the first big chance of the game in the 17th minute when Fleming linked well with right-back Max Aarons and picked out Barkarson unmarked in the box but the winger looped his header over the bar to let Birmingham off the hook.
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The visitors had the next big chance, four minutes later, thanks to a lovely pass from Tom Anderson setting Ben McLean clean through, only for Hale-Brown to block and Aaron Ekumah to clear up for City.
Spyrou should have put the hosts ahead in the 24th minute after more good play on the right from Fleming, with the forward hammering a volley a yard wide just as he looked set to score his fifth goal of the Youth Cup run.
Less than two minutes later visiting keeper Adam Siviter spilled another Fleming cross – after he had skinned left-back Ryan Burke again – but Idah just couldn't reach the ball in time.
With temperatures down as low as -3C and snow falling, Blues left-back Burke was booked for a crunching tackle on Barnes in the 39th minute.
Redmond then made a vital block to deny Barkarson in the 41st minute, after Irish striker Idah saw his chance to shoot thwarted in the box and decided to pass, with his shot looping onto the roof of the net.
From the resulting corner Barnes crossed the ball back in from the right and Spyrou looped a header on target which Siviter held, as the Canaries struggled to make the breakthrough.
With first team head coach Daniel Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber among those watching on from the directors box, as well as academy products Josh Murphy and Angus Gunn, the chance for a second semi-final in six seasons was still very much up for grabs.
Spyrou clattered his own post heading away a corner five minutes after the break as the hosts started the second half in something of a daze, leading to the Blues taking the lead.
Spyrou's tackle saw Caolan Boyd-Munce beat Fleming to the ball in midfield and Timi Odusina followed striker Jordan Clarke out of his box, leaving a gap in the back-line which Tom Anderson charged through before firing low into the bottom-right corner.
Within three minutes it was 2-0, Boyd-Munce again the creator and Clarke turning Ekumah this time before firing low past Fergal-Brown at his near post – then limping off after the wild celebrations.
City had come from behind in every round of the competition but all of a sudden poor defending had given them a mountain to climb.
Birmingham defender Redmond made a fine tackle to deny Spyrou in the 70th minute but the visitors wrapped up the win 10 minutes later when substitute striker Josh Andrews thumping home into the top corner from the edge of the box to finish a counter attack.
Spyrou squeezed home a consolation as the snow fell heavily in the 90th minute but it was too little, too late, as the Canaries missed out on a two-legged semi-final against Chelsea.
Norwich: Hale-Brown; Aarons, Odusina, Ekumah, Kamal; Fleming (Keller 83), Payne (C), Barnes (Hutchinson 63), Barkarson; Spyrou, Idah. Unused subs: Dickerson (GK), Mehmeti, Dronfield
Goal: Spyrou 90
Birmingham: Siviter; Dawes, Bajrami (C), Redmond, Burke; Anderson, Stirk, Boyd-Munce (Chisholm 87), McLean; Clarke (Andrews 56), Bailey. Unused subs: Landers (GK), Forrest, Concannon
Goals: Anderson 52, Clarke 55, Andrews 80
Attendance: 1,500 (estimated)