Norwich City Under-18s chief Neil Adams salutes young Canaries after reaching the FA Youth Cup final
- Credit: Archant © 2013
Norwich City U18s coach Neil Adams praised the ice-cool nerve of his young Canaries after beating Nottingham Forest's U18s on Tuesday night in a faultless penalty shoot-out at Carrow Road to reach the FA Youth Cup final.
Former City stalwart Adams forged a reputation as a superb penalty-taker in his playing days and Norwich's next generation showed their prowess to prevail 5-4 in the shoot out after the tie had finished 1-1 on aggregate. William Britt saved Jack Blake's spot kick to edge Adams' side through to the club's first final since 1983 and a two-legged date against either Chelsea or Liverpool. Adams revealed afterwards nothing had been left to chance with City bravely holding firm despite being reduced to 10 men for an hour when Cameron Norman picked up two yellow cards in the space of eight second half minutes.
He said: 'We practised on Monday but the lads are practising all the time. They love to take penalties and free kicks but we actually put on a structured session where they had to walk the 30 yards, they had to wait for a whistle and everyone was watching. Of course you can't create the tension of 9,500 people but what you can do is be confident. That is something I did as a player. I made sure I took at least a 100 in the week so I was ready for the game. You saw that confidence. They stepped up and as for Reece Hall-Johnson and that spiralling run up I had no idea what he was doing but it worked.'
Chris Hughton and his entire first team squad were in attendance, along with nearly 10,000 fans, and Adams hopes his young side's heroics can inspire the senior stars ahead of Saturday's Premier League game against Reading.
He said: 'It is a phenomenal achievement. Something that everyone associated with the academy should take credit for. The board have supported us incredibly, Chris Hughton and his staff have been brilliant. Anything they could do they have and the entire first team staff was here. That is just one of the reasons why the academy is in the position it is and three points against Reading will be a fantastic week for us.
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'To go down to 10 men and for so long against a good Nottingham Forest side you have to have character in droves and we have. Not just the players on duty here but the squad. We had to dig in and it was tough. We'll have a lot of sore limbs in the morning but they showed fantastic spirit to see it through and then to go and stick five out of five in on the penalties. You can't ask for any more.'
Adams remained confident his charges would still get through despite Jordan Palmer-Samuels cancelling out City's first leg lead in the 11th minute and then Norman's dismissal after the break.
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He said: 'The early goal rocked us back. We had planned for it because we had to make them aware of every situation and we said if Forest score, then don't worry. It was still all square in the tie. There wasn't a panic there and that is the preparation and attention you need to be successful so I was pleased we stuck to our guns. Obviously the sending off was something we hadn't planned for and that threw a real spanner in the works. You have to think tactically who is going to play, who is going to come off and unfortunately we had to take Rod Young off just after he had gone on. He is a tough lad and he knew it was for the good of the team and he will be a big part of the final.'
Adams insisted Norman was a touch unlucky to pick up two yellow cards from referee Stuart Attwell.
He said: 'I think the second one was a yellow card. The first one maybe the referee could have just had a word and said be careful because it was on the half-way line. There was no threat on the goal but once he has the yellow card he has to stay on his feet and he has been guilty of being too honest. He wanted to win the ball and with a little bit more experience he would have realised he had to stay on his feet.'