Premier League Cup: Norwich City U23s 1 Everton U23s 0
- Credit: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City Under-23s have kept their Premier League Cup campaign alive, with the help of a goalkeeping howler as heavy rain fell at Carrow Road, after a superb display from their own keeper Paul Jones.
Central midfielder Ebou Adams scored the vital goal in the 82nd minute after Everton stopper Conor Hunt allowed a Todd Cantwell cross to squeeze through his gloves, firing a low shot into the net from 12 yards.
It moves City up to second in Group D and means they will finish in the top two and go through to the knockout stages if they beat Wolves at Colney next Friday, as Everton travel to group leaders Portsmouth in their final game.
The young Canaries put out another young side made up mostly of teenagers, with the only change from the team which lost 1-0 to Aston Villa last week coming in goal, where Jones replaced Ben Killip.
The Toffees made the brighter start and Kieran Dowell missed a golden chance in the fifth minute when on-loan Wolfsburg winger Anton Donkor crossed from the left, firing over from 15 yards despite having a clear sight of goal.
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Donkor, a deadline day signing for the visitors, limped off five minutes later though after a clumsy tackle from Diallang Jaiyesimi.
Glenn Middleton – named in the latest Scotland U17 squad for two friendlies against Japan in Spain next week – was looking lively on the left for the hosts and was hauled down in the 13th minute by Harry Charsley, earning the right-back a booking.
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Belgium youth international David Henen had replaced Donkor for the visitors and his classy back-heel teed up Charsley in the 28th minute, whose low shot was comfortably held by Canaries keeper Jones.
With Norwich struggling to create clear-cut chances, Jones was again required three minutes later, superbly turning a powerful shot from Henen from 10 yards over his crossbar.
The best chance of the half for City came in the 38th minute, when Joe Crowe set Jaiyesimi on the attack. With the visiting defence backing off and Louis Ramsay charging forward in support on the right, the winger used his team-mate as a dummy runner and fired a shot from the edge of the area which just curled away from the left post.
The Toffees went close again a minute later when visiting skipper Liam Walsh fired a shot from a short free-kick which deflected just over the bar, to leave the scorers untroubled going into the break.
Jones was called into action again four minutes into the second half, when Charsley rose high to meet a cross from the left from Foulds, with the keeper taking no chances and tipping the ball over his crossbar.
Ramsay shaved the post with a low shot in the 66th minute after a Cantwell cross avoided everyone in the penalty area, as the Canaries started to improve.
But Jones was needed again twice in quick succession, showing strong wrists to turn behind a powerful shot from Walsh from the edge of the area in the 76th minute.
Less than two minutes later the former Portsmouth keeper was needed again, Walsh teeing up substitute Bassala Sambou 12 yards out, only for Jones to get down well to stop the ball rolling into his bottom-left corner.
The saves proved pivotal as well as Norwich claimed the lead in the 82nd minute, when Cantwell swung a free-kick in from the left and Hunt dropped the wet ball, allowing Adams to lunge and power the ball home through a forest of legs for 1-0.
City generally saw out the closing stages professionally but Jones was needed one last time, in the first of five added minutes when substitute Joe Williams' swerving shot from the edge of the area bounced just in front of him and he smartly turned the ball behind for a corner.
The victory was only the second in 11 games for Dmitri Halajko's team, moving them to second in the group and ensuring they will progress if they can beat Wolves in their final group game.
Norwich: Jones; Ramsay, Efete (C), Odusina, Lewis; Crowe, Adams; Jaiyesimi, Cantwell, Middleton; Ashley-Seal (McGrandles 71). Unused subs: Oxborough (GK), Spyrou, Sambu, Wallis.
Booked: Lewis, Cantwell
Goal: Adams (82)
Everton: Hunt, Charsley, Feeney, Robinson, Foulds; Dowell, Baningime (Williams 67), Walsh (C); Broadhead (Sambou 58), Duffus, Donkor (Henen 10). Unused subs: Hilton (GK), Kirsey.
Booked: Charsley, Henen
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