Norwich City’s Under-23s fell to their first defeat in seven matches as they went down 2-1 away at Blackburn Rovers in PL2.
A brilliant 40-yard free-kick from Louis McIntosh got City back into it with 20 minutes remaining, but two first-half goals turned out to be enough for Rovers, who go top of the PL2 table.
Blackburn went 1-0 up after 10 minutes when Tyler Magloire glanced home a whipped free-kick from Joe Grayson.
On 21 minutes Savvas Mourgos went close to an equaliser for the Canaries, but his swerving shot was well saved by Andrew Fisher before Joe Grayson brilliantly blocked the follow-up effort. Five minutes later Joe Crowe had a header from a corner smartly saved by Fisher.
The game was very end-to-end, but it was Blackburn who struck again. Once again it was Grayson with the assist, as his inswinging corner was headed in by Lewis Mansell in the 37th minute.
Norwich nearly hit back immediately, but Pierre Fonkeu’s touch at the far post was excellently saved by Fisher, and then straight down the other end Mansell headed inches wide for the hosts.
It was Rovers who came out strongest in the second half, with last-ditch defending and good goalkeeping keeping out Willem Tomlinson, Magloire and Joe Rankin-Costello as the game reached the hour mark.
Glenn Middleton attempted to swing the momentum City’s way with two long-distance efforts, but Fisher was equal to both tasks.
City got back into it in sensational style in the 70th minute. McIntosh spotted Fisher off his line, and from close to the halfway line he fired the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net to give Norwich hope of a comeback.
Four minutes later and Matt Gill made a double change, with Emersson Sambu replacing Harry Toffolo and Simon Power coming on for Mourgas.
With five minutes left, Gill introduced Finlay Barnes – stepping up from City’s Under-18s – replacing Kieran Higgs.
Shortly afterwards Aston Oxborough bravely came off his line to thwart Mansell, who was through on goal and looked set to make the game safe for the hosts before the young goalkeepers’ intervention.
With a minute remaining Tomlinson and Crowe both received their marching orders for second yellow cards after squaring up to each other.
As the game entered injury time, McIntosh once again tried his luck from distance but this time Fisher was able to make the save to give Rovers the points.
City remain in 6th in the table, with Reading up next at Carrow Road on February 4.