Norwich City U23s 0 Aston Villa U23s 1 – Keeper denies young Canaries in feisty encounter
- Credit: Andy Kearns/Focus Images Limited
Some fine goalkeeping saw Norwich City Under-23s beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa in a feisty encounter at Carrow Road this evening.
Todd Cantwell had struck the post for City in the 59th minute but the hosts saw winger Andre Green score the decisive goal eight minutes later to claim the points in the Premier League Two Division Two encounter.
The teams had met at Carrow Road last month in a Premier League International Cup group game, with the young Canaries coming from behind three times to win 4-3 and seal progress to the knockout stages of that competition.
The hosts had only five of the starting team from that night though, with Matt Jarvis, James Maddison, Ray Grant, Conor McGrandles and Carlton Morris all not available this time.
Villa were able to field eight of the same players from the start though and looked the more cohesive unit early on.
Strapping striker Keinan Davis had scored twice for the visitors that night and should have opened the scoring from a corner from the left from Green in the 13th minute, but powered his header wide.
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Centre-back Easah Suliman followed suit and headed wide from a Green corner 10 minutes later, with midfielder Harry McKirdy also lashing a shot straight at City captain Ben Killip in the 27th minute.
The Canaries began to wrestle back control though and three minutes later playmaker Cantwell bent a lovely shot from the edge of the area which landed on the roof of the net.
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Glenn Middleton went close as well four minutes later, with superb control to beat two markers on the left wing before charging forward and lashing a low shot which forced Villa keeper Viktor Johansson to sprawl to his left to turn the ball around his post.
City were camped in the opposition half in the closing stages and lone striker Benny Ashley-Seal again forced Johansson into a good save in the 41st minute. This time it came from a long ball forward from right-back Louis Ramsay, with Ashley-Seal nipping in front of defender Jacob Bedeau and firing low at the bottom-right corner, only for the keeper to smother the shot smartly.
The hosts continued to dominate in the early stages of the second half, with Joe Crowe heading wide from a Middleton cross from the right in the 49th minute, before Cantwell smashed against the post 10 minutes later. The chance was made by the tenacity of Middleton, the 17-year-old Scotland youth international robbing Villa right-back Tom Leggett on halfway and charging forward, before cutting back for Cantwell, who smashed a low shot against the base of the right-hand upright.
It was Villa who claimed the lead though, against the run of play, when Davis rolled in Green on the left of the area in the 67th minute and the winger fired low under Ramsay and keeper Killip into the bottom-right corner for 1-0.
It punished the Canaries for not taking their chances but Cantwell almost equalised just three minutes later, lashing a rising shot from the edge of the box that Johansson superbly tipped onto his crossbar.
Davis should have made sure of the win for the visitors in the 80th minute when Callum O'Hare picked him out, unmarked, with a lovely cross from the left only to see the striker prod wide from six yards out.
It didn't matter though as the City players ran out of steam after failing to take their chances, wasting a succession of late corners as they tried to apply pressure only to see Villa stand firm.
There was one final flurry of incident, as Adams cleaned out Jerell Sellers on the edge of the City box as he was about to shoot, sparking an almighty bout of pushing and shoving. After tempers calmed, Villa striker Davis was booked for his reaction and Adams for his tackle but the subsequent free-kick was blasted wide by Sellers.
City's under-23s will be back in action at Carrow Road next Wednesday, against Everton in the Premier League Cup, when tickets will again be free for fans.
Norwich: Killip (C); Ramsay, Efete, Odusina, Lewis; Crowe, Adams; Jaiyesimi, Cantwell, Middleton; Ashley-Seal. Subs: Hallett (GK), Spyrou, Sambu, Syme, Aarons.
Booked: Adams (90+3)
Villa: Johansson; Leggett, Suliman, Bedeau, Calder; O'Hare, Sellers; Blackett-Taylor, McKirdy (Prosser 55), Green; Davis. Subs: Idem (GK), Linley, Clarke.
Goal: Green (67)
Booked: Suliman (53), Davis (90+3)