Conference side Cambridge United win close encounter
CAMBRIDGE United goalkeeper Chris Maxwell pulled off a string of fine saves as a mixed Norwich City side containing a number of professional and development squad players lost 1-0 at the Abbey Stadium this evening.
Under the guidance of Assistant Manager Colin Calderwood, City named a starting line-up that contained both youth and experience for this pre-season friendly and saw a first start for recent signing Gary Hooper. The former Celtic frontman was flanked by the Murphy twins Josh and Jacob with Wes Hoolahan making his first appearance in City colours since the squad returned from the US.
The match began in explosive fashion when United’s Adam Cunnington lashed home a thunderous effort from all of 25-yards inside the opening two minutes.
City soon created an opportunity for a swift equaliser when Hooper fed Jacob Murphy down the right and his low cross fell invitingly to Josh Murphy who placed his effort over the bar from 12 yards out.
The hosts almost extended their lead after 15 when Nathan Arnold cut in from the right and sent a low driven effort just inches wide of Carlo Nash’s far post.
The travelling Norwich fans witnessed the first bit of real class from Hooper when he sent a clever flicked ball into the path of Jacob Murphy whose snap-shot from inside the area was blocked.
City saw another good chance come their way when Hooper won a corner on the half-hour and flicked the resulting flag-kick on to Harry Toffolo but the young defender placed his effort straight at ‘keeper Chris Maxwell.
The home ‘keeper was called into action again three minutes later when he pushed away a powerful header from Adel Gafaiti following another David Fox corner.
Half-time: Cambridge United 1 Norwich City 0
Calderwood made his first change of the evening during the half-time interval as Jamar Loza replaced Hooper.
Despite a bright start form the hosts it was Norwich who engineered the first clear-cut opening of the second half when Hoolahan threaded a neat ball through to Josh Murphy but Maxwell was quick off his line to smother the City forward’s effort.
FA Youth Cup winner Carlton Morris replaced Hoolahan shortly after the hour for City while goalscorer Cunnington made way for Liam Hughes as Cambridge too made their second change of the night.
Cambridge almost extended their lead after 75 minutes when Tom Bonner saw his powerful shot come back off the foot of the post with Nash well beaten. Play soon switched to the other end as Loza weaved himself some space before unloading a driven effort which was smartly stopped by Maxwell.
Two further Canary changes came on 78 minutes as Reece Hall-Johnson replaced Jacob Butterfield and trialist Ajayi entered the fray as Gafaiti made way.
As the game entered its final minute Josh Murphy had a great chance to level for City but once again the Canaries could just not find a way past Maxwell who palmed away his stinging drive.
After the game Calderwood said: "It's all about evening out the amount of game-time the players have had. The lads who didn't start last night at Brighton started tonight and we were always going to give Gary Hooper 45 minutes and Wes Hoolahan an hour.
"I thought Cambridge provided an excellent test and defended very well. I thought their 'keeper had a great game and was probably their man of the match. Their goal was a super strike - that's two of those we've had now in two days so hopefully we'll not see any more for a long while!
"It was a good work-out for us tonight and continues our preparation as we progress through the pre-season."
Final score: Cambridge United 1 Norwich City 0
United: Maxwell, Taylor, Bonor, Miller (c), Donaldson, Champion, Cunnington (Hughes 61), Tait, Austin (Sam-Yorke 24), Berry, Arnold Subs not used: Coulson, McAuley, Norris (GK), Pugh, Allen
City: Nash, McNeill, Toffolo, Fox, Ayala, Gafaiti (Ajayi 78), Hoolahan (Morris 61), Butterfield (Hall-Johnson 78), Hooper (Loza 46), Jacob Murphy, Josh Murphy Subs not used: Matthews (GK), Barker, Hodd
Referee: Mr N Hair
Attendance: 2,636 (328 Norwich fans)