San Jose Earthquakes 1, Norwich City 0
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Norwich slipped to a first defeat on their USA pre-season tour against a well-drilled San Jose outfit at Buck Shaw Stadium in the early hours of Sunday morning (BST).
Cordell Cato pounced on a rare error from Russell Martin to calmly slot underneath Mark Bunn in the seventh minute. City gave debuts to both Dutch imports Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer but it was the MLS side who looked more likely to add to their slender lead. City's club-record signing van Wolfswinkel earned himself a first half yellow card after a brief running skirmish with Quakes' defenders Brad Ring and Dan Gargan. Fer looked an imposing figure when he was introduced at the interval but City were unable to seriously threaten home keeper David Bingham.
Chris Hughton kept only four of the starting line up from the midweek win over Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa with Adel Gafaiti, Nathan Redmond, Alex Tettey and Jacob Butterfield all included again from the outset. Chris Hughton's men got off to the worst possible start when Cato struck - much to the delight of the Ultras stationed behind the Norwich keeper's goal.
City upped the ante with Anthony Pilkington sneaking behind Seven Beitashour before Jonny Howson tested Bingham from 20 yards out but the Quakes' keeper parried to clear his lines. Walter Martinez then drifted away from Dani Ayala but dragged wide of Bunn's goal as the MLS side exhibited little trace of any inferiority complex in the early stages.
Van Wolfswinkel displayed his pace and predatory instincts to race in behind Beitashour after anticipating Javier Garrido's raking clearance but the Quakes' defender recovered to intercept. The Dutchman then demonstrated his will to win despite the relaxed surroundings with a minor spat that started with Ring and ended with his team mate Gargan booked for an aggressive shove.
Pilkington's free kick was plucked by Bingham before Redmond capitalised on defensive hesitancy to round Bingham only for Ring to foil the recent Birmingham signing. Van Wolfswinkel evened up the crime count after a lunging challenge on Ring earned him a debut yellow card and Garrido joined him for a clip on goalscorer Cato.
Ring bravely threw himself at van Wolfswinkel with the Dutchman ready to test Bingham five minutes prior to the interval, but San Jose finished the stronger as Mehdi Ballouchy sidefooted over from 20 yards after some sharp interplay around the edge of City's penalty area.
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Hughton rang the changes again at half-time in a repeat of the opening tour win over the Mexicans. Fer was the headline introduction with van Wolfswinkel making way for midweek goalscorer Luciano Becchio. Wes Hoolahan was also introduced for his outing of the tour in place of Butterfield. Fer's goalscoring instincts saw him advance but unleash a rising hit that flew over. The dangerous Martinez then burst away from Ayala but skied over John Ruddy's bar.
Pilkington teased his way into the Quakes area before sliding to Becchio but the Argentine could only strike a grounded home defender. Ayala's affirmative action halted Marcus Tracy at the opposite end after the hosts' sprung a sharp counter.
San Jose skipper Ramiro Corrales momentarily had Ruddy scrambling across his goal with City still second best in the sparring. The England keeper then dropped sharply on his goalline to foil Sam Garza after City were cut open down their left flank. Garza curled a golden chance wide to seal the win in the 87th minute after racing beyond a tiring City backline but guiding two yards beyond Ruddy's left-hand upright. Shea Salinas had the final say when he slalomed his way around Ryan Bennett but fired over.
• San Jose Earthquakes: Bingham, Beitashour (Bernardez 62), Ring, Gargan, Stewart (Morrow 62), Cato, Ballouchy, Corrales, Garza, Salinas (Martinez 52), Tracy (Jahn 71). Subs (not used): Newton, Baca, Cronin, Lenhart.
• Booking: Gargan
• Goal: Cato (7)
• Norwich City: Bunn (Ruddy 45), Gafaiti (Whittaker 45), Ayala (R Bennett 61), R Martin, Garrido (Surman 75), Redmond (Snodgrass 45), Tettey (Fox 80), Howson (Fer 45), Pilkington (E Bennett 61), Butterfield (Hoolahan 45), van Wolfswinkel (Becchio 45). Sub (not used): Nash, Olsson, Josh Murphy.
• Bookings: van Wolfswinkel, Garrido
• Attendance: 9,631
• Referee: Kevin Stott