Youngsters impress in Celtic showdown

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City 3, Celtic 1: Norwich's stars of the future won their version of the Battle of Britain on Friday night with an impressive display against their counterparts from Glasgow.


Norwich City 3, Celtic 1

Norwich's stars of the future won their version of the Battle of Britain on Friday night with an impressive display against their counterparts from Glasgow.

Two second-half goals sealed success in front of a crowd just short of 4,000, but it was the manner in which it was achieved that will have heartened Canaries boss Peter Grant, watching his former club take on his current employers.

Impressive displays all over the park were a sign that the academy system at Norwich is alive and kicking - and looking set to produce more stars to follow in the footsteps of Craig Bellamy, Darren Eadie and this year's vintage, 18-year-old Chris Martin.

“It is a reward for all the hard work that we have done and for the investment that the club has pout into the set-up,” said academy boss Ricky Martin.

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“I won't single out any players because I thought they all performed well, all over the park, against a team from one of Britain's biggest clubs.

“The lads have gone out in front of a big, paying crowd, and performed as we asked them and performed well - they're a good advert for Norwich City Football Club and the future.”

While there was little to choose between the teams in the opening stages, City youngsters were clearly eager to impress their home crowd and went forward at every opportunity.

Striker Nick Davey - with an impressive fan club cheering him on from the Barclay Stand -was unlucky on nine minutes when he saw an effort go narrowly wide, but the game didn't take long to burst into life, with two goals in a minute.

It was Celtic who claimed first blood on 13 minutes, a James Forrest corner finding Stephen O'Donnell who took careful aim and slotted the ball home into the top corner.

But while the visitors were still celebrating, Norwich broke with a vengeance. David Cooper's shot from the right was off target, but Josh Dawkins was quick to react and swept the ball home from eight yards.

The impressive Davey - who has secured a scholarship with the Canaries next season - was busy around the Celtic area and, having won possession, forced Connor Fairley into a diving save with a shot that would have crept in at his right-hand post.

Tom Adeyemi's control let him down after he was released down the left by Davey, but it signalled the start of some good pressure by the young Canaries.

Celtic weathered that particular storm, but it was City who were looking the more adventurous, with some impressive tackling at the back, good passing in midfield and excellent off the ball running but the strikers.

City were indebted to Paul McLean for mopping up as City found themselves outnumbered in their own defence after losing possession, but Davey was at it again on 37 minutes, turning well in the area, but seeing a powerful low shot parried away by Fairley.

City will have felt unlucky not to be ahead at the break, but Dawkins almost made it 2-1 within two minutes of the restart, only to be denied by Fairley who saved bravely at his feet.

However, Adeyemi was in the right place at the right time on 46 minutes, sweeping home Davey's cut-back from the right byline to put City in charge - and almost had another two minutes later with a first-time effort from a corner.

Sub Emmanuel Richardson tried his luck from distance on the hour and forced Fairley into a full-stretch finger-tip save, while City skipper Sam Habergham saw a header from a corner cleared off the line two minutes later.

City keeper Declan Rudd was replaced by Jed Steer on 63 minutes and the Reepham High School pupil was quickly in the thick of the action, saving bravely at the feet of Grant Gallagher as Celtic hunted an equaliser.

Davey could have made it safe with eight minutes left, but shot into the side netting - but had the consolation of setting up Richardson for City's third on 76 minutes when his effort was blocked by Fairley, but fell kindly for the sub.

t Norwich: Rudd (Steer 63), Cooper (Hudson 74), Yong, Smith, McLean, Habergham, Latimer (Richardson 45), Stephens (Bailey 54), Davey, Dawkins (Hunter 54), Adeyemi (Crocker 78).

t Celtic: Fairley, Gallagher, Brennan (Doyle 48), Joyce, Irvine, Cochrane, Forrest, O'Donnell (Lynch 53), Pop (Pavlov 40), Quinn (Yureuv 40), Fitzharris (Foster 40).

t Referee: M George.

t Attendance: 3,965.