Norwich City's Under-23s began 2018 with a hard-earned 3-1 victory over Stoke City at St. George's Park.
Todd Cantwell's corner travelled all the way into the net to give City the lead in the first-half before Tyrese Campbell equalised shortly after.
Moussa Niakate saw red on the stroke of half-time and City took full advantage after the interval as goals from Pierre Fonkeu and Devonte Aransibia eased them to victory.
Boss Matt Gill opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation with Emmerson Sambu playing at right-back in place of Max Aarons who was ill. Joe Crowe played his first City game after his loan spell at Limerick ended last month and there was a start for trialist Jordan Edwards in an attacking midfield role.
Both sides enjoyed possession early on but it was the hosts who went closest to opening the scoring. Campbell broke clear on four minutes and forced a good save from Aston Oxborough before Jake Dunwoody hit the side-netting with a crisp strike five minutes later.
Julien Ngoy and then Campbell missed the target as the game approached the midway point in the first-half but it was the Canaries who took the lead on 24 minutes. Cantwell’s cleverly caught Stoke goalkeeper Josef Bursik off-guard at his near post and his corner squeezed past the stopper and into the net.
Stoke responded immediately when Niakate crossed for Campbell to guide the ball past Oxborough but the man who got the assist was sent off on 40 minutes. Cantwell fouled Niakate but the left-back responded by kicking the City goalscorer in the leg and referee Simon Lucas showed no hesitation in brandishing a red card.
City finished the half strongly and Edwards had their best chance to regain the advantage but he shot over from the edge of the area after good footwork allowed him some shooting space.
Gill’s men dominated possession at the start of the second-half but their opponents defended stoutly and City had to patient for their opportunities to come. However, on 67 minutes, a lapse in concentration in the Stoke defence allowed Fonkeu to race clear and slot the ball under Bursik and into the net.
Stoke were always a threat on the counter attack and Ngoy managed to find himself in-behind the City defence on 76 minutes but Oxborough was there to race out and beat away the wide man’s effort.
City didn’t rest on their lead though and they made the points safe in the final ten minutes when Aransibia drove the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.