JACOB Murphy’s superbly taken first half goal was enough to earn City a hard-fought 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at Colney in the Barclays U21 Premier League on Friday.
Jacob Butterfield, Chris Martin, Elliott Ward, and Jed Steer all featured for Scott Marshall’s development squad, who move onto ten points from just five games this season.
Both sides had chances, but the Canaries had young-stopper Steer to thank for denying the visitors as he pulled off a string of fine saves to ensure City came away with all three points in front of the watching Chris Hughton.
Development squad manager Scott Marshall told Canaries.co.uk: “The character today was great. We didn’t pass it as well as we can, but we showed character to hold on to it.
“The goal was excellent, but that’s what Jacob and Josh Murphy can do. It was a fantastic pass from Josh and an even better finish from Jacob with his left foot.
“That was very pleasing, but there is still plenty to work on. We’re looking for a better performance and some better quality in possession. But in terms of character it was great.
“West Brom closed us down really well, and I thought that would die off a bit, but they kept at it the whole game and didn’t give us much space to play.
“Jed Steer did really well too. When your team isn’t keeping the ball as well as you’d like you need your goalkeeper to perform, and he did today.”
It was visitors West Brom who started the match on the front foot, with midfielder Sam Mantom seeing a powerful strike blocked well by Adel Gafaiti inside the opening ten minutes.
City’s 19-year-old ‘keeper Steer was then called into action on 14 minutes after a mistake in defence allowed Saido Berahino in one-one-one. Steer was quick off his line though and made a crucial save at the striker’s feet.
It was the Canaries who struck most decisinly however in the 28th minute. The dangerous Josh Murphy came in off the left wing to pick out his twin brother Jacob with a delightful through ball. The winger’s pace then took him clear of Donervorn Daniels, allowing him space to fire a low left footed effort into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
With just under ten minutes until the break the visitors did threaten briefly through Kayelden Brown, but Steer again made a great save as George Thorne rattled the follow-up over the crossbar.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City U21s 1, West Bromwich Albion U21s 0
After the break an unchanged City took the game to West Brom – Ewan McNeil’s run from inside his own half ending in a shot over the crossbar, and Jacob Murphy’s right wing centre being glanced just wide by 16-year-old Cameron King.
Josh Murphy came within inches of doubling City’s lead on the hour mark, cutting inside again from the left and opting to shoot – only to see his curling right foot shot deflect just wide of Lewis Shane’s goal.
The second-year scholar then had another effort blocked for the Canaries as the game became stretched.
With just over ten minutes left on the clock, powerful Albion substitute Romaine Sawyers was frustrated by Steer who pulled off an excellent save to deny the striker from 20 yards despite the ball moving in the air.
The visitors then carved out one more golden chance when Berahino unleashed a fearsome left foot effort from a tight angle, but Steer once again produced his best to stop the goal and seal a deserved 1-0 win for City.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City U21s 1, West Brom U21s 0
CITY: Steer, McNeil, Barker, Durojaiye (c), Gafaiti, Ward (McGeehan 70), Jacob Murphy, Butterfield, C. Martin, King (Loza 85), Josh Murphy (Hall-Johnson 90)
SUBS NOT USED: Matthews, McGeehan, Hall-Johnson, Loza, McFadden
WEST BROM: Shane, O’Neil, Garmston, Thorne, Daniels, Gayle, Roofe, Mantom, Brown, Berahino, Allan
SUBS: Sawyers, Palmer, O’Sullivan, Nabi, Jones