Cantwell the last-gasp hero for City U23s to seal Premier League Cup win over Bournemouth
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Todd Cantwell was the last-gasp hero for Norwich City U23s against Bournemouth, firing a late winner in the Premier League Cup group stages just five days after making his first-team debut at Chelsea.
Left-back Harry Toffolo played his first game since breaking a foot in early December while playing on loan in League One for Doncaster Rovers – but it was Cantwell who grabbed the spotlight.
The first half was competitive but saw City struggling to create clear-cut chances, with the Cherries having a goal disallowed in the 21st minute after left winger Keelan O'Connell was adjudged to be offside when he crossed to allow Kyle Taylor to roll home from close range.
Canaries keeper Aston Oxborough then made a fine save four minutes later, sticking out a big left hand to stop Mikael Ndjoli's shot from going into the bottom-right corner, after a stray pass from Emersson Sambu.
Looking bulked up and determined, Toffolo was out-muscling younger opponents comfortably as he looked to impress ahead of the transfer deadline. The FA Youth Cup winner is out of contract in the summer and looks likely to go back out on loan as he continues to try and prove himself.
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The 22-year-old came off at the break as he makes his way back to fitness and his replacement, midfielder Louis McIntosh, almost made an immediate impact when he forced a fine save from Mark Travers from a curling free-kick.
With trial right-back Jordan Thomas – previously on the books at Huddersfield – playing the final half-hour, visiting keeper Travers again denied the hosts in the 71st minute when he tipped over a powerful Tristan Abrahams shot.
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The former Leyton Orient striker was replaced by ex-Arsenal midfielder Savvas Mourgos, on his way back from October ankle surgery, in the 76th minute as Bournemouth piled on the pressure.
It was Cantwell who broke the deadlock though, dancing across the edge of the penalty area with a bunch of defenders chasing him before firing low into the bottom-left corner, to leave City on course to reach the knockout stages.
The young Canaries return to Premier League Two action on Friday away to Blackburn Rovers, at the Leyland County Ground (7pm).
Norwich: Oxborough; Aarons (Thomas, 61 – trialist), Crowe, Walliss, Toffolo (McIntosh 46); Sambu, Aransibia (C); Fonkeu, Cantwell, Middleton; Abrahams (Mourgos 76). Unused subs: Hallett (GK), Power
Goals: Cantwell (90)
Booked: Crowe (foul on O'Connell, 50), Cantwell (foul on O'Connell, 60), Aransibia (foul on Ndjoli, 83)
Bournemouth: Travers, Seaman, Lee, Butcher (C), Hobson, Cordner, Diaz, Vincent (Ofoborh 67), Ndjoli (Glover 88), Taylor, O'Connell. Unused subs: Ward (GK), Gillela, Anthony
Booked: Cordner (foul on Cantwell, 33), Seaman (foul on Cantwell, 86)
Referee: Josh Smith
Attendance: 750 (estimated)