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18 February 2015

Wilkinson: A really good performance

JAMAR Loza bagged the winning goal two minutes from time to secure Norwich City a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the Barclays Under-21s Premier League.

Loza, who only returned from a loan spell at Yeovil Town on Sunday, converted Jacob Murphy's cross on 88 minutes and earned the Canaries their fourth league win of the season on Wednesday night.

7,127 supporters took advantage of the free ticket offer to create a vociferous atmosphere at Carrow Road, although some of them may have missed Josh Murphy's opener inside the first minute.

Manchester City rallied and levelled through Jose Pozo, before Declan Rudd kept out the Spanish frontman's penalty later in an action-packed opening period.

Both sides had opportunities to win it in the second half, but coach Paul Wilkinson was delighted that it was his youngsters who eventually came out on top.

"It was a really good performance by the boys. We've had a decent record at Carrow Road this year and it was nice to keep it going," he told after the game.

"The added bonus of the crowd and the atmosphere helps to build a good tempo to the game, which you don't always get. That helps the players.

"The boys were terrific tonight, and the first team lads that came in gave us an extra edge which we don't always have."

The Canaries named a strong line-up before kick-off as Jacob Murphy, Loza and Carlton Morris made their first appearances in yellow and green since returning from their respective loan spells.

Senior pros Declan Rudd, Ignasi Miquel and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe also played as Wilkinson's men looked to maintain their unbeaten home record this season.

Angus Gunn, a former City Academy goalkeeper and son of Canaries legend Bryan, started between the sticks for Manchester City, who sat four points ahead of their hosts in the league before kick-off.

Gunn was picking the ball out from his own net within the first minute, however, as Josh Murphy broke the deadlock after a rapid attack.

The visitors had kept the ball from kick-off, but with their first sniff the Canaries were in front as Jacob Murphy played in his twin brother down the left, and he dispatched the ball confidently into the far corner.

Norwich were looking lethal in the final third even though their opponents were seeing more of the ball, with the pace and power of the frontmen pushing Patrick Vieira's men back.

Manchester City levelled on 22 minutes, though, as Brandon Barker picked out the impressive Pozo's run in the box, and he finished beyond Rudd to draw the Citizens level.

Norwich then twice went close to regaining their advantage - Odjidja saw an effort hooked away off the line, shortly before Gunn got down superbly to deny Miquel's header.

The Canaries then conceded a penalty as the game stretched, with Kyle McFadden and Reece Hall-Johnson both challenging Barker in the area.

Pozo stepped up, but Rudd was his equal, getting down to his left to get a strong hand to the Spaniard's spot-kick and keep the scores level.

Gunn denied Loza and Morris in quick succession just before half-time, but the break came with neither side having established a lead.

HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Manchester City

The early stages of the second half was strewn with yet more opportunities, primarily for Wilkinson's side.

Josh Murphy flashed a shot wide of the far post before Sam Kelly's cross proved just too strong for Jacob Murphy at the far post.

Murphy then pushed an effort just the wrong side of Gunn's post as City and Manchester City's 'keeper kept out Loza's volley from a Josh Murphy corner.

The visitors still offered a threat, with Rudd having to be on his toes to keep out Olivier Ntcham's low strike, but the game slowed in tempo as the final stretch approached.

With a little over ten minutes left on the clock, Ntcham almost put Manchester City ahead in stunning fashion with a thunderbolt from 25 yards. Rudd was grateful to see it deflect off the post and away.

Up the other end, Loza and Jacob Murphy spurned half chances but two minutes from the end, the former struck the game's decisive goal.

Murphy once again broke free down the left, and this time Loza was on hand to turn the ball home and clinch an impressive and vital three points for City.

FULL-TIME: Norwich City 2-1 Manchester City

GOALS: Canaries: Josh Murphy (1), Jamar Loza (88) - Citizens: Jose Pozo (22)

NORWICH CITY: Rudd; Hall-Johnson, McFadden (c), Miquel, Kelly (Efete 77); McGrandles, Odjidja; Jacob Murphy, Loza, Josh Murphy (Norman 68); Morris (Grant 82). Subs not used: Beauchamp (GK), Crowe.

MANCHESTER CITY: Gunn, Smith-Brown, Maffeo, Adarabioyo, Angelino, Glendon (c), Celina, Ntcham, Pozo (Boadu 66), Byrne, Barker. Subs not used: Lawlor, Bossaerts, Plummer.



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