Norwich City U21s 0, Bolton U21s 2
- Credit: Archant copyright 2012
Norwich City's U21s development chief Scott Marshall is confident the Canaries' recent loan signing Kei Kamara will reap the benefits of a 45-minute run out in today's 2-0 second string defeat to Bolton's U21s at Colney.
The Sporting Kansas striker was deployed as an over-age player in front of watching City boss Chris Hughton and his coaching team against a powerful Trotters' outfit which featured experienced former Leicester and Reading centre back Matt Mills.
Kamara had little real chance to impress with Bolton dominant for the majority of the opening period, but Marshall believes the 28-year-old can only improve following his first start in Norwich colours.
'It was great to have him involved,' he said. 'He had been training with us for the last couple of days and he is enthusiastic and energetic and he will be a good addition. He is still in close season really in terms of his match fitness so we have to give him time and get some minutes into him on the pitch and I am sure he will be working hard in training over the next week or so to get up to speed. The plan was always just to give him 45 minutes, he was down for 45, so he will train tomorrow (Tuesday). It has probably been a bit hectic for him the last week or so but he will be fine. He just needs to get some training in now and mix with the other first team boys.'
Kamara was the only senior member of Hughton's squad on display at the club's training base. George Francomb and Korey Smith were not involved after featuring in the goalless development draw at Reading last week, but City's hierarchy did run the rule over young trialists Chris Lybohy and Kemo Darboe. Gambian teenage striker Darboe replaced Kamara at the interval with 18-year-old French midfielder Lybohy also handed a second half cameo to impress.
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'We are giving these players an opportunity to come in and have a go,' said Marshall. 'It wasn't an easy game for them to come into but you don't get many chances so you have to grab them if they come along. The two other lads (Francomb and Smith) have played a lot of football out on loan and they are with us in the meantime, but I am sure they will get out and go and play some league football again in time. We had a few boys who hadn't played much football because of the weather so if we left them out here then it would have been another two weeks before some of them played a game.'
Marshall had no complaints that a streetwise Bolton were full value for their win courtesy of second half strikes from Tom Eaves and Adam Blakeman.
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'I said to the boys at the end that physically you are going to come up against stronger men now,' he said. 'Hopefully these guys will go out and play in the league and if they want to compete they are going to come up against a physical presence like that. It was a good one for them to come up against that. It's great playing against the likes of him (Matt Mills) and people like that. That is what it is all about and hopefully they can improve.
They are not going to come up against that physical confrontation every week in the U21 league so it is good for them to experience that side. Football never stops for anybody and they will learn from it. These players have moved on well over the last four or five months. Okay, the performance here was not fantastic but we did create chances and we have got done on two set pieces so we keep it in perspective and go back to work again.'
Kamara was paired alongside Jamar Loza in an attacking front two for the hosts and gave an early glimpse of his aerial potential when he towered above Mills but Trotters' keeper Jan-Ole Sievers reacted quickest to the knockdown. The Sierra Leone international's first time pass then set up Jacob Murphy who squared for twin Joshua but the England U19 wide player was crowded out.
Jed Steer foiled Eaves with an excellent one-handed stop before the interval, but the keeper had no chance when Eaves swept home from close range in the 56th minute after Mills re-directed Chris Lester's free kick. Lybohy's ambitious volley flew over before City spurned two inviting free kick chances around the edge of Bolton's area when Sanmi Odelusi hacked down Jacob Murphy. Wanderers proved less profligate and Blakeman's low 18 yard free kick deceived Steer in the final minute of normal time after Lester's surge was illegally halted.
• Norwich U21s: Steer, McNeil, Toffolo, Clunan, Sheriff, Gafaiti, Jacob Murphy, Durojaiye, Kamara (Darboe 45), Loza (Lybohy 45), Joshua Murphy. Subs (not used): McGeehan, Matthews, Hall-Johnson.
• Booking: Josh Murphy (89)
• Bolton U21s: Sievers, Threlkeld, Kellet (McQuade 76), Mills, Bolger, Blakeman, Lester, Gregus, Eaves, Sampson, Odelusi (Clough 76). Subs (not used): Fielding, McKee, Hampson.
• Bookings: Kellet (61), Odelusi (71)
• Goals: Eaves (56), Blakeman (89)
• Referee: Ryan Atkins