Photo gallery: Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe stars as Norwich City U21s beat Southampton
- Credit: Archant
Belgian midfielder Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe was the star of the show as Norwich City Under-21s put in a dominant performance to beat Southampton U21s 2-0 at Colney this afternoon.
Odjidja-Ofoe, Ryan Bennett and Tony Andreu were the three permitted over-age players able to bolster the young Canaries side for the Barclays U21 Premier League clash – and all three will have been pleased with their efforts.
Goals from young strikers Jamar Loza and Carlton Morris sealed the victory for City against the U21s of the highly-rated Saints academy, which has produced the likes of Gareth Bale and Luke Shaw in recent years.
The visitors, managed by former Canaries first-team coach Martin Hunter, were never able to get a foothold against a dominant home side though.
Loza fired City ahead in the 11th minute after a poor kick from Saints senior goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga held up in the wind and didn't make it over the halfway line. Jacob Murphy seized on the loose ball and ran at the visiting defence, sliding Loza in to the right of the penalty box and the Jamaican international powered a shot into the roof of the net from 10 yards out.
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Odjidja-Ofoe then came to the fore, demonstrating the midfield verve which Canaries fans had been expecting from the summer signing from Club Brugges before he injured knee ligaments in October.
The central midfielder displayed plenty of energy, commanding directions, nice touches and varied passing to set the tone for the match.
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Good inter-play between Loza and Morris threatened to double the lead in the 20th minute but Gazzaniga rushed out to smother the shot and then recovered to divert the follow-up from Morris behind for a corner.
Southampton steadied their ship to prevent City extending their lead before the break, Andreu then stole the spotlight early in the second half, twice forcing decent saves from Gazzaniga and playing Murphy through, who was also thwarted by the Argentinian keeper.
Bennett played an hour as he stepped up his comeback from a hamstring injury, forming a solid central defensive partnership with Irish prospect Kyle McFadden, but was not replaced until after he had helped the Canaries double their lead in the 58th minute.
Great determination by Murphy saw the winger recover a loose ball on the right wing and hook a cross into the box, which Bennett powered goalwards with a header at the back post.
Gazzaniga again made an excellent save but Loza diverted the loose ball to Morris in the six-yard box, who forced the ball home from close range.
Odjidja-Ofoe let fly with a cracking effort from 25 yards in the 63rd minute, forcing another good save as his left-footed effort flew towards the top-left corner.
Loza followed suit in the 70th minute, Gazzaniga diving to his right to tip a low shot around his post.
Odjidja-Ofoe then had another chance to get the goal his performance deserved in the 86th minute, when Morris challenged Gazzaniga for a header from a Sam Kelly cross from the left, to see the ball drop to the Belgian unmarked on the edge of the box, but his lob was headed off the line by left-back Josh Debayo.
With first-team manager Alex Neil watching on, Odjidja-Ofoe completed the full match and helped the City U21s to extend their unbeaten league run to seven matches, against a team who were third in the table ahead of kick-off.
Norwich City U21s: Matthews; Hall-Johnson, McFadden, R Bennett (Efete 59), Kelly; McGrandles, Odjidja, Andreu; Jacob Murphy, Loza, Morris. Unused subs: Oxborough (GK), Grant, Norman, Ramsay.
Southampton U21s: Gazzaniga; Mason, McCarthy (C), Wood, Debayo; Gallagher (Sims 68), Gape, Hesketh, Isgrove; Seager, Sinclair (McQueen 59). Unused subs: Britt (GK), Mugabi, Jones.
Follow David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer.