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12 November 2015

Young City side beaten by Seagulls

NORWICH City's Development Squad were eliminated from the Barclays Under-21s Premier League Cup on Thursday evening after a 4-1 defeat at Brighton's Amex Stadium.

A highly inexperienced City outfit had taken an early lead through Glenn Middleton's fierce strike, only for the hosts to rally with three goals before the interval.

They added a fourth in the second half to complete the scoring, leaving the Canaries to focus on their Barclays Under-21s Premier League campaign.

Norwich's youthful nature was exemplified by 17-year-old Callum Ellesley being handed an Under-21s debut in central defence, while there were also starts for second-year scholars Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell alongside schoolboy Middleton. 

In contrast, Albion included goalkeeper Casper Ankergen and midfielder Rohan Ince in their starting XI, with the pair having accumulated in excess of 250 professional appearances in English football between them. 

Such experience ultimately told according to manager Dmitri Halajko, who explained to "We need to learn from a poor 25 minute spell which ultimately cost us the game.

"As a team we started brightly before letting them back in it. They really capitalised on that, and from then on it was always going to be a tough ask.

"There are positives though, such as Callum making his debut and Glenn probably being the youngster player to ever score in this competition. That all forms part of an invaluable experience for them."

City began in perfect fashion, going in front with their first meaningful opportunity after just four minutes through Middleton's maiden career strike at this level. 

Jamar Loza broke into space, and although his initial delivery was cleared the ball eventually found its way to the 15-year-old who fired home emphatically from inside the box. 

The away side looked to stamp their authority on the game, with the tricky Cantwell drawing a free-kick on the edge of the box which Loza curled narrowly wide.

Albion grew into the contest however, with Ellesley booked for a late tackle on Joe Ward in midfield ahead of Canaries captain Ben Killip producing a fine save to palm away Jack Harper's drive.

Having been denied on that occasion, the Seagulls were to draw level midway through the first half; Connor Goldson meeting a corner to head down into the net with the aid of a deflection.

That goal gave the hosts confidence, and they broke at pace on 35 minutes to turn the game around as James Tilley coverted a low cross from the right at the back-post.

They would score a third ahead of the half-time whistle, with Tilley again the man to deliver the telling touch as a rapid counter led by Elvis Manu was rounded off by the forward's lashed finish beyond Killip.

Brighton began the second period in similar fashion, further extending their advantage on 51 minutes thanks to a fine solo goal from Jack Harper.

The former Real Madrid youngster collected just outside the box, before weaving his way into the penalty-area and firing into the roof of the net.

City tried valiantly to get themselves back into the game, with a succession of energetic bursts down the right flank from Jamie Eaton-Collins looking their most likely outlet. 

Such efforts were to prove in vain though, Middleton and Loza both being denied by sprawling Ankergren saves in the closing stages.

Albion threatened to dish out further punishment in injury-time, but were prevented from doing so by a superb stop from Killip, ahead of late City calls for a penalty being waved away as it ended 4-1.

FULL-TIME: Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 Norwich City

Canaries Goal: Middleton (4)

NORWICH CITY XI: Killip (c); McGrandles, Efete, Ellesley, Lewis; Grant; Eaton-Collins, Cantwell (McIntosh, 62), King (Ashley-Seal, 62), Middleton (Couzens, 84); Loza. Subs not used: Oxborough (GK), Wallis.

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