17:00 3rd May 2013
by Ben Mouncer
League season ends with spoils shared at Colney
NORWICH CITY’s Development Squad’s final league match of the campaign ended all square as they drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace on Friday afternoon.
Trialist Jamie MacLaren headed City into the lead from Korey Smith’s cross soon after half-time, but Palace had a spell of pressure that was rewarded with Ibra Sekajja’s equaliser.
The result sees Scott Marshall’s Canaries finish fourth in Group Two of the Barclays Under-21s League, with attention now switching to the Norfolk Senior Cup Final against Wroxham at Carrow Road in just under a fortnight.
Midfielder Smith made his first appearance in a yellow shirt since returning from a successful loan spell at Oldham Athletic, while Rhys Browne was named up front with Jamar Loza.
Palace made the early running with decent long-range efforts from Hiram Boateng and Dean Parrett, before striker Kwesi Appiah saw a header ricochet off the crossbar from Matthew Parsons’ cross.
For City, Loza had a shot saved on 18 minutes after a mazy run down the left, but the striker had to be withdrawn just before the half hour mark with injury, and was replaced by Harvey Hodd.
The home team were started to look threatening and should have taken the lead when Smith and MacLaren combined to see the latter bearing down on goal only for him to shoot wide.
MacLaren then saw Ross Fitzsimons acrobatically save another chance minutes later, before he kept him out once more seconds before the half-time whistle.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-0 Crystal Palace
City’s trialist finally got a reward for his persistence four minutes into the second period as he scored the game’s opening goal.
Smith provided the assist, racing down the right hand side and providing a cross that MacLaren met with his head, and even though the impressive Fitzsimons got a hand to the ball, it nestled in the net.
A quiet ten-minute spell followed, but Palace forced themselves back into the game on 66 minutes – Appiah broke down the left of the penalty area, and his cross was missed by a City defender and winger Sekajja had a simple tap-in at the back post.
Norwich were shaken and Appiah himself had a trio of opportunities to give the visitors the lead.
Firstly, he sliced a shot wide after beating the offside trap, before he then drove straight at Jed Steer and flicked a header over the crossbar.
City steadied the ship and almost snatched all three points with a couple of minutes left on the clock, but MacLaren couldn’t control his volley in the area and it flew over.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Crystal Palace
GOALS: Norwich City – MacLaren (49). Crystal Palace – Sekajja (66).
NORWICH CITY: Steer; McNeil, Sheriff (c), Gafaiti, Wylie; Durojaiye; Smith, Clunan; MacLaren; Loza (Hodd 29), Browne. Subs not used: Matthews (GK), Heath, St Louis, Carroll.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Fitzsimons; Akuruka, Wynter (c), Taylor, Parsons; Sekajja, Boateng, Parrett, Banton (Williams 45); Appiah, Allassani. Subs not used: Gregory (GK), Dymond, Kaikai, Henry-Francis.