Norwich City's Under-23s drew 1-1 against Sunderland after Benji Kimpioka’s second half strike cancelled out Ant Spyrou’s first half goal.
Senior goalkeeper Michael McGovern started for the Under-23s and replaced Jon McCracken who missed out on the squad altogether, with Billy Johnson starting as the substitute keeper. Despite featuring for the first team at the weekend Grant Hanley started for the Under-23s ahead of Caleb Richards who returned to his loan club.
Simon Power and Adam Phillips were replaced in the central midfield positions by Tom Scully and Saul Milovanovic, the latter starting for the Under-23s just under a week after scoring in the FA Youth Cup against Port Vale. Nelson Oliveira and Matt Jarvis were not involved in the youth fixture, with Josh Coley and Ant Spyrou replacing the senior duo alongside Kenny McLean who started for the second consecutive game with the Under-23s.
City looked a threat straight from kick-off with Spyrou getting put through on goal on two occasions; Sunderland defender Brandon Taylor making a last ditch tackle on both occasions. Five minutes into the game McLean sent in a teasing cross from the left-hand side but was just out of the reach of Spyrou’s foot as the striker was unable to make any contact with the ball
One minute later Sunderland striker Benji Kimpioka nearly found himself through on goal, the forward got onto the end of a through ball, but was stopped in his tracks by Ciaren Jones who won the ball back and reclaimed possession for the Canaries.
McLean received the ball from a throw-in on the right hand side before curling in a dangerous ball into the Sunderland penalty area, however Taylor managed to clear the ball just before Spyrou was able to get his head on it.
Twenty-five minutes into the game was the first time either keeper was tested. However, Jack Diamond’s effort from just inside the City penalty area was weak and was comfortably picked up by McGovern.
Five minutes later, Ant Spyrou turned a Sunderland defender before getting fouled on the edge of the box to win a free kick for the Canaries. The subsequent free kick was smashed against the wall by McLean before his follow up effort was put well over the bar.
Despite a first-half which lacked chances, City went a goal up just before the break. An array of shots from the edge of the Sunderland penalty area were all blocked, however the ball fell for Spyrou who was hovering around the six-yard box before the striker pounced and smashed the ball past Anthony Patterson and into the back of the net to make it two goals in two games for the striker.
The first chance of the second half fell for Bali Mumba, whose driven shot from range meant McGovern was forced into a diving save to his left, to keep the scores level.
Ten minutes into the second half, City had a golden opportunity to go two goals up, but Spyrou failed to convert his chance. The ever-present McLean eased past a Sunderland player on the right-hand side before sending a low cross into the path of Spyrou, however the striker could only put his effort to the right of the Black Cats goal.
Mid-way into the half, Scully picked up the ball around 30-yards out, before the midfielder fired the ball towards the Sunderland goal, but the striker just missed the top of the visitor’s crossbar and the ball went out for a goal kick.
City were looking comfortable in possession of the ball as the half went on, however Sunderland equalised with around 15 minutes still left on the clock. Kimpioka drove forward with the ball before placing a shot past McGovern and into the bottom right corner.
In the final stages of the game Sunderland pressed the Canaries back, and were trying to complete their come back. City stood firm and very nearly found a winner of their own in the final minutes. Scully’s corner was put into the front post and was met by the head of Ciaren Jones but his powerful effort went over the bar.
In the last minute Tom Scully saw his shot from the edge of the area go into the top right corner. At first the goal was given, however after a few minutes of discussion, the referee awarded a free kick prior to Scully’s shot before the referee blew his whistle for full time.
City Starting XI: McGovern; Odusina (c), Thomas, Jones, Hanley, Payne, Scully, Milovanovic (Phillips 65), Spyrou, McLean (Kamal 74), Coley (Idah 65).
Unused Subs: Lomas, Johnson