A STUNNING second half hat-trick from winger Jacob Murphy set Norwich City Under-21s on their way to an emphatic 5-0 victory over Stoke City at the Weaver Stadium on Friday.
It was the 17-year-old’s second hat-trick in as many U-21 games, and his eighth goal in the last three from the right flank to grab the headlines in what was an impressive all-round team performance.
Josh Murphy opened the scoring for City, and also bagged a hat-trick of assists for the second game running from the left wing, while striker Jamar Loza completed the rout with a fifth near the death.
Development squad manager Scott Marshall told Canaries.co.uk: "It was a good start and a great professional performance from the lads out there which was really pleasing.
"I don't think the result flattered us, because it was only 1-0 at half time and we had to work hard for it. Stoke play in a certain way and we had to adapt and respond to that, so it wasn't easy.
"The whole team did brilliantly, I was really pleased. Jacob got his hat-trick, and I think both he and Josh have responded in the right way since signing their contract.
"Now it's about keeping that momentum and staying grounded. I think they and the rest of the lads are seeing that you do get rewards for hard work, and they'll want to keep that up.
"We've all had a good few days of preparation where we went down to St George's Park which I think we can see has really paid off. It is a wonderful facility and a proper football environment where the focus is really on football.
Jed Steer started in goal for the Canaries, whilst George Francomb also featured in defence after his loan spell with AFC Wimbledon in League Two ended.
Michael Clunan captained the side from midfield, with twins Josh and Jacob Murphy on either wing, having put pen-to-paper on professional contracts last week.
After a promising start at Nantwich’s Weaver Stadium, Jacob Murphy’s pace took him clear of his man on the right and he was able to slide a pass past Potters’ defender Jordan Keane allowing Josh Murphy to finish past Dan Bachmann on six minutes for 1-0.
The Canaries continued to apply the pressure to the home side through Loza, who drew an impressive save from Bachmann with a 16th minute effort, whilst Stoke were restricted to set pieces – Jordan Richardson’s shot drifting off-target.
As the game crept past the half hour mark, Loza again forced a fingertip save from Bachmann, whilst some excellent forward play from Harry Toffolo engineered an opening for first-year scholar Cameron King which went just wide.
Jacob Murphy could have doubled the lead on 37 minutes, but he couldn’t keep his effort down after a fine piece of attacking play from Josh Murphy.
HALF-TIME: Stoke City Under-21s 0, Norwich City Under-21s 1
Again it took just six minutes of the half for City to get on the score sheet, but this time it was Jacob Murphy with the strike.
Josh ran intelligently into space on the left flank and picked out his twin brother with an inch-perfect pass which Jacob had no hesitation in blasting past a helpless Bachmann for 2-0.
Five minutes later it was yet another Murphy combination that led to City’s third – Josh Murphy’s exquisite ball finding the run of Jacob from the left, who again made no mistake in putting his finish past Bachmann.
Norwich were beginning to run riot at the Weaver Stadium and around the hour mark skipper Clunan had two great efforts to put the result beyond any doubt.
The first came courtesy of a Josh Murphy pass, but the Academy prospect’s shot cannoned back off the post, before a counter attack soon after saw him curl a delicious effort wide of the upright.
Stoke attacked sporadically, and Norwich finally added a fourth in the 69th minute when Jacob Murphy’s driven right footed effort from 20 yards found the net.
Marshall’s men were relentless in their pursuit of more goals as Loza’s effort was cleared off the line, and Bachmann somehow managed to keep out a Clunan free kick soon after.
However the fifth did finally come and it fittingly fell to the hard-working Loza in the 85th minute, curling an accurate 20 yard shot into the top corner and sealing an impressive 5-0 away victory.
FULL-TIME: Stoke City Under-21s 0, Norwich City Under-21s 5
STOKE: Bachmann; Keane, Heneghan, Glanski, Clarkson; Thomas (Marsden 71), Richardson, Dawson, Musungu (Vose 71); Alabi, Rossi.
CITY: Steer; Francomb, McNeil, Gafaiti, Toffolo; Jacob Murphy (Sheriff 79), Durojaiye, Clunan, Josh Murphy (Hall-Johnson 71); King (Morris 76); Loza
SUBS NOT USED: Matthews