City unlucky to lose 1-0 to Gunners at Carrow RoadA dominant second half display warranted everything but a goal for Norwich City's Under-21s as they lost 1-0 to Arsenal in their Barclays Premier League Under-21s Cup meeting at Carrow Road on Tuesday.
Mark Robson's side suffered a blow in first half stoppage time when Benik Afobe netted to edge the visitors in front after an even opening period.
City were well on top after the break found Matt Macey in sensational form, with the Arsenal 'keeper denying both Josh and Jacob Murphy, and Rod Young twice.
The result means City exit as the last 32 stage of the inaugural competition, but a lot of positives can be taken from a lively performance.
Robson said afterwards: "I thought we played very well tonight, and but for our final ball and some great saves from their 'keeper, we could have got something.
"We've been working on certain aspects of our game, and we done them really well tonight. I thought the lads were outstanding with their work-rate - they did everything we asked them to do."
The Canaries welcomed Josh Murphy back to the fray after his stint with the first team, but skipper Cameron McGeehan missed out due to being away on international duty with Northern Ireland Under-21s.
Arsenal had a few familiar faces in their line-up, including Ryo Miyaichi and Emmanuel Frimpong – both have made Premier League appearances for the Gunners.
It was Josh Murphy who had the Canaries’ first effort on goal after five minutes, but his free-kick comfortably saved by Matt Macey.
The cup tie started off at a high tempo in front of small crowd at Carrow Road, and Arsenal had their earliest opportunity on 13 as Miyaichi forced a low stop from Remi Matthews after Benik Afobe’s pass.
Arsenal started to get on top and Matthews had to be at his best to keep out Afobe’s snapshot from eight yards, and then the same player’s effort after he was played through by Jan Toral moments later.
It looked as though City were going to finish the half as the stronger side as they pressed for the game’s deadlock-breaking goal, but it was the visitors who stole a march in first half stoppage time.
Afobe managed to ride two challenges before slotting underneath Matthews to buoy Arsenal’s players going into the half-time break.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-1 Arsenal
Norwich started positively in the second half and forced a number of corners that Arsenal managed to successfully defend.
Jamar Loza made his return to the side after his loan spell at Coventry City expired, replacing Carlton Morris on 52 minutes.
Arsenal remained happy to keep possession but were over-confident on 70 minutes, but Loza and Josh Murphy couldn’t capitalise between them when Macey got mixed up with Stefan O’Connor.
Isaac Hayden skimmed the post with a drive up the other end a couple of moments later, before Loza stuck the ball away for City only to be adjudged offside.
Norwich then came as close as they had been throughout the game with two chances in a minute – initially Young went on an outstanding run down the right with his shot being beaten away by Macey, before Loza drilled an effort that the Arsenal ‘keeper was equal to once more.
Young followed it up but his shot was smothered, and the Gunners will have counted themselves fortunate to still be ahead and also extremely grateful to their goalkeeper.Macey then saved again, this time from Jacob Murphy who got the crowd on their feet with a stunning left-footed curling effort from 25 yards.
The young winger then had a tamer effort kept out, before drilling a shot from the edge of box that Macey gratefully clutched to his chest at the second attempt.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 0-1 Arsenal
GOALS: Arsenal: Benik Afobe (45)
NORWICH CITY: Matthews; McNeil, McFadden, Gafaiti, Toffolo; Hall-Johnson, Hodd; Jacob Murphy, Young, Josh Murphy; Morris (Loza 53). Subs not used: Oxborough (GK), Barker, Norman, Eaton-Collins.
ARSENAL: Macey; Yennaris, Ajayi, O’Connor, Ormonde-Ottewill; Frimpong, Haydem, Zelalem; Miyaichi (Bellerin 55), Afobe (Akpom 53), Toral. Subs not used: Huddart (GK), Olsson, Boateng.