Young Canaries draw 1-1 after extra time at Aldiss Park
Dereham’s Nicky Howell had put the home side ahead on the half-hour mark, but despite a second half bombardment, in which Jacob Murphy struck the crossbar with an audacious lob, City weren’t able to make the breakthrough until Loza’s cool finish near the end.
Home ‘keeper Andy Wilton pulled off a string of fantastic saves in extra-time to force the replay, including a spectacular double-stop in which he tipped another Jacob Murphy effort onto the post before clawing Reece Hall-Johnson’s header off the line.
Manager Scott Marshall told Canaries.co.uk afterwards: “It was never going to be easy as they had set up to make it difficult with five across the back, so it was a different challenge.
“We had a lot of possession and time on the ball, so it tested their decision making, and I think we could have done better. The pitch was lively and not perfect, but that’s what you have to deal with and it was a great experience for the boys.
“It was great to see the passion and will to win from the lads, right until the final minute. They stuck at it through extra-time, and their ‘keeper made a fantastic save right at the death.”
Goal scorer Loza added: “I’m delighted to get on the score sheet. Harry Barker put me through and I just put it away.
“The wind was terrible, but sometimes you get that in football and you have to adapt. We had to be patient tonight, but hopefully we’ll be okay next time.
“I’m looking forward to the replay now, we’ve got to work hard in training and hope it pays off in the match. I’m really enjoying things at Norwich at the minute, and it’s good that the hard work is starting to pay off with a few goals, and I feel like I’m progressing well.
As expected, Marshall’s young side started brightly in difficult conditions at Aldiss Park, with Jacob Murphy signalling a sign of his attacking intent with a wicked curling effort from 25 yards that was tipped around the post by Wilton in the fourth minute.
Second-year scholar Cameron McGeehan then fired over from range, before the referee realised that Dereham ‘keeper Wilton’s yellow kit clashed with City’s strip, which was changed to green.
Then in the 31st minute lively winger Howell put the home side with a neat lofted finish over the top of City ‘keeper Remi Matthews, after a well-timed run had beaten the offside trap.
The Canaries attempted to use their superior possession to muster a response, but the wind was playing havoc in the area, making crossing difficult, and despite Ben Wyatt’s 30-yard effort that flew over, they went in to the half a goal down.
HALF-TIME: Dereham Town 1, Norwich City Under-21s 0
After the break City had the hosts pinned back in their own half for large periods, but both teams were able to create chances still.
Jacob Murphy curled a speculative right-footed lob at goal from 25-yards, which had Wilton beaten, only to land on the crossbar.
Minutes later City had Matthews to thank for keeping the score at 1-0, when he made a spectacular reaction save to deny a Dereham substitute a headed goal from close range.
Jacob Murphy then had another two great chances – the first after nutmegging both Seamus Kallerher and Ryan Hawkins to force Wilton into a good save, and the second an instinctive header cleared off the line.
Marshall introduced the trio of Olumide Durojaiye, Josh Murphy, and Loza on 70 minutes for McGeehan, Carlton Morris, and Harry Toffolo as he pushed for the win.
Josh Murphy then had his turn at testing Wilton – the ‘keeper pushing one powerful effort around the post, before watching another effort from the left strike the upright.
Then, just two minutes from time, Loza finally equalised. A great diagonal run in the box was found by Barker, and the striker made no mistake in placing the ball into the bottom corner to send the game into extra time.
FULL-TIME: Dereham Town 1, Norwich City Under-21s 1
The superior fitness of City was beginning to tell in extra time, although the hosts were defending superbly from an onslaught.
Scottish defender Ewan McNeil came agonisingly close to winning it for City on 106 minutes when he broke out of defence with the ball and struck a powerful effort at goal that took a deflection and almost beat Wilton.
Jacob Murphy was then denied one-on-one by Wilton, before in the last minute his 25-yard rocket was somehow tipped onto the post by the ‘keeper, who then got up to claw Hall-Johnson’s follow up header off the line.
Then in the dying seconds of the match, Dereham striker Shaun Bammant wasted a golden opportunity to win it, but with an open goal to aim at, the number nine put his effort just wide of the post.
FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Dereham Town 1, Norwich City 1
CITY: Matthews, Barker, McNeil, Gafaiti, Wyatt, Jacob Murphy, Clunan (c), McGeehan (Josh Murphy 70), Toffolo (Durojaiye 70), Hall-Johnson, Morris (Loza 70)
DEREHAM: Wilton, Hawkins, Starling, Gusteson, Eastoe-Smith, Howard, Howell, Smth, Bammant, Borrer, Kay