16:00 12th August 2013
by Norwich City Football Club
Defender gets valuable minutes as Under-21s beat Stoke 4-1
SEBASTIEN Bassong began his return from injury by playing an hour for City's Under-21s as they started their campaign with an impressive 4-1 victory over Stoke City.
The defender, who has been recuperating since missing the final game of last season against Manchester City, got through 64 minutes unscathed at Colney.
All the goals came in the second half, with both Josh and Jacob Murphy and Jamar Loza netting, and the fourth being an own goal from Alex Grant. James Alabi scored the Potters' solitary effort in a frantic period of second half stoppage time.
On Bassong's return, the Academy's Head of Coaching Paul Nevin said: "Seb had a really good hour - he led the defensive line well and got a lot of good touches playing it out from the back. We're glad to see him come through the 60 minutes as planned.
"The younger lads want to impress any time a senior player comes down, plus we have the management staff watching on the side so it inspires all of them."
Fellow first-teamers Jacob Butterfield and Luciano Becchio were also named in the starting eleven for the Canaries, while Carlo Nash started in goal against his former club.
Stoke's George Waring had the game's first opportunity of six minutes, flicking Charlie Ward's cross wide before Loza fired into the side-netting for City.
Both Waring and Alabi then forced decent stops from Nash as Stoke looked the more comfortable side, but Norwich came into the game as the half wore on.
Josh Murphy lifted a shot over the bar before having the game's best chance a minute before the break - brother Jacob played the winger through, but his shot rebounded off the inside of the post and he was unable to tuck in the rebound.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-0 Stoke City
Both Karim Rossi and Adam Thomas had chances for the visitors before Norwich took the lead just after the hour mark.
Jacob Murphy was hauled down around 25 yards from goal, and Josh Murphy proceeded to curl a delightful free-kick around the wall and past Dale Eve into the corner.
Bassong was then replaced by Harry Barker, before Becchio was forced off after a nasty collision with Waring.
After Butterfield had seen a shot tipped around the post, City doubled their advantage on 74 minutes - Barker rose to meet Jacob Murphy's corner, and his header was pounced on by Loza, who swept the ball home.
Ricky Martin's side were well and truly in the ascendency and Jacob Murphy nudged an effort wide on 86 before Morris forced a good reaction save from Eve.
Jacob Murphy went one better in stoppage time, slotting home City's third after being played through by his brother, but Stoke pulled one back almost immediately when Alabi bundled home.
The scoring wasn't finished there, though - Josh Murphy broke down the left for the Canaries and after Eve parried his shot, the ball deflected off Grant and into the net to re-establish City's three-goal cushion.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 4-1 Stoke City
Nevin added: "It was fantastic. We've had a good pre-season against lower league opposition and we did a lot of work on the ball, and I think that showed today.
"We moved it fast with limited touches - we maybe didn't have the quality in the final third in the first half, but we certainly turned it around in the second half."
GOALS: Norwich City - Josh Murphy (63), Jamar Loza (74), Jacob Murphy (90), Alex Grant o.g. (90). Stoke City - James Alabi (90)
NORWICH CITY: Nash; McNeil, Gafaiti, Bassong (Barker 64), Toffolo; McGeehan, Butterfield; Jacob Murphy, Loza (Hall-Johnson 90), Josh Murphy; Becchio (Morris 70). Subs not used: Matthews (GK), Hodd.
STOKE CITY: Eve; Glasgow, Keane, Grant, Campbell (Watkins 59); Thomas, Wheeler, Ward, Alabi; Rossi (Richards 88), Waring. Subs not used: Heneghan, Kurasik (GK), Lecygne.