A SUPERB Jamar Loza hat-trick helped City’s under-21s development squad to a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers in their opening Barclays U21 Premier League fixture of the season at Colney on Monday afternoon.
David Fox also played 80 minutes as the impressive Canaries cruised to victory after coming from a goal down to sweep aside Blackburn in the sweltering heat.
Korey Smith captained the side, which included George Francomb and several young new additions to Scott Marshall’s U21 squad – ex-Spurs youth midfielder Scott Olumide Durojaiye, and former Rangers youth pair Ewan McNeil and Ramil Sheriff.
Trialist Luke Dobie played behind Loza in attack, while Jacob and Josh Murphy played on each flank after making the step up from Neil Adams’ under-18s to start the season in the development squad.
The Canaries started the game positively, getting joy down the left hand side with Josh Murphy terrorizing the Rovers defence, but it was the home side who struck most decisively on the 15 minute mark.
Lively number eight Raheem Hanley engineered an opening on the edge of the box to rifle an effort at goal that Declan Rudd did well to save, however the midfielder was on hand to finish at the second attempt, giving his side a 1-0 lead.
Marshall’s side responded by adopting a confident attacking attitude that paid dividends in the 21st minute after some great work again from Josh Murphy on the left wing. He did well to beat his man and still have the composure to produce a fine ball to the back post that an unmarked Loza nodded home with ease.
Shortly afterwards the turnaround was complete thanks to some alert play from the hard-working Loza.
The striker stole the ball of the toes of a Rovers defender before rounding the goalkeeper and rolling the ball into an empty net to give City a well-deserved 2-1 lead.
Blackburn attempted to muster a response, but efforts from John O’Sullivan and Micah Evans were straight at Rudd and the half ended with the Canaries well on top.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City U21s 2, Blackburn Rovers U21s 1
The second half began with more impressive service into the box from both Josh and Jacob Murphy, but it was right-back McNeil who was the provider for City’s third in the 57th minute.
A pinpoint ball from Smith found McNeil in space on the right, and the defender curled in a teasing cross that a well-positioned Loza was able to bundle over the line for his and City’s third goal.
The combination of Fox and Smith in the centre of the park was working well as both players continued to launch attacks from midfield – Fox even saw a 20-yard effort flash just wide of Matthew Urwin’s goal as City applied the pressure.
Jacob Murphy then tested Urwin as well, before Rovers number nine Jamie MacLaren forced a great reaction stop from Rudd after he met Will Beesley’s free kick with a venomous snapshot.
Cameron King and Michael Clunan replaced Dobie and Fox for the Canaries, who were able to close out the game with relative ease and get their inaugural U21 Premier League season off to a flyer at Colney.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 3, Blackburn Rovers 1
CITY: Rudd, McNeil, Durojaiye, Fox (Clunan 82), Francomb, Sheriff, Jacob Murphy, Smith (c), Loza, Dobie (King 74), Josh Murphy
SUBS NOT USED: McFadden, Steer, Hall-Johnson.
BLACKBURN: Urwin, Wylie, Beesley, Lenihan, O’Connell, Mason Ware, Evans, Hanley, MacLaren, O’Sullivan, Osawe
SUBS: Molina, Dilo, Brown, Haley, Thompson