Norwich City Under-23s took all three points when they beat Sunderland 3-1 at Carrow Road on Sunday.
The game started in a very similar fashion to most for the Canaries, they were holding the ball nicely in possession, but struggled to make any decisive chances in the final third by the first 15 minutes. Nonetheless, Sunderland weren’t seeing much possession go their way, dampening their chances of seeing a goal, giving the Canaries all the time in the world to settle into the game.
That settling in almost came quite early on, FA Youth Cup hat-trick hero Josh Martin made a run into the box, beating one or two Sunderland shirts before losing control of the ball and seeing it cleared hastily. An early sign that the Canaries were beginning to get into the game, but the effort wasn’t anything to separate the sides.
Any City fans who attended the FA Youth Cup game against Newcastle were most likely feeling some déjà vu by the 20th minute. A quick throw-in found the feet of Martin, who set it off to his left before striking it on goal, nestling in the top corner to break the deadlock.
Riding that momentum, the Canaries soon capitalised once more. A fast counterattack saw Adam Idah facing just a single defender before the goal was in sight. The forward made short-work of his chance, passing the defender before tapping the ball home in the bottom corner, doubling the City lead early on.
It wasn’t so easy from then on, Sunderland started playing a lot more conservative football, keeping two or three men back when making an attack. This meant that the Canaries couldn’t quite find that groove they had come into by the 25th minute, leaving them without a third goal by half-time.
Despite the lack of any additional goals, the City backline were ruthless in their defending, making sure no Sunderland effort made it into the box. 45 minutes remained, and Sunderland had to find two goals to take a point home.
An energetic start to the second-half saw Jamal Lewis make a run of his own, cutting in from the left and beating all those who came to him. The left-back was only had the ‘keeper Anthony Patterson left to beat, but his efforts were for nothing when the Sunderland man saved it without much difficulty.
Sunderland weren’t learning much from their mistakes, as minutes of build-up play saw Idah in a position to take another shot on goal, the effort just spilling wide.
The visitor’s were given their first chance of a goal in the 72nd minute when a push in the back saw a Sunderland man go down in the box. The referee awarded the penalty, to which Benjamin Kimpioka stepped up and found the back of the net, sending Joe Rose the wrong way.
Just one goal behind with 15 minutes to go didn’t sound like an impossible task for Sunderland to take a point home, although it was going to be an uphill battle for the visitor's, being as their only chance had come from a penalty.
In a parallel moment just a minute later, Lewis made yet another run into the box, being swept out from behind before he could get his shot off leaving the referee pointing to the spot once more, this time in the Canaries favour.
Ahadme stepped up, side-footing his effort into the far corner, sending Patterson the opposite direction. All of a sudden, the gap had increased to two once more.
A scrappy effort from Sunderland to find another goal was seen out by the Canaries backline, ensuring the home side took all three points from this fixture.
Norwich City U23s: Rose, Thomas, Lewis, Odusina, Famewo (c), Adshead, Fitzpatrick (Hutchinson, 75), Thorvaldsson, Idah, Ahadme, Martin
Subs not used: Lomas, Blair, Hondermarck, McAlear
Goals: Martin (19), Idah (23), Ahadme (75)
Bookings: Thorvaldsson (27)
Sunderland U23s: Patterson, Mumba, Kokolo (Edmundsson), Connolly, Taylor, Bainbridge (c), Sammut, Gamble, Kimpioka, Mallon (Slack), Greenwood (Dunne)
Subs not used: Abdelkader, Collins
Goals: Kimpioka (73)
Bookings: Connolly (25), Mumba (31), Mallon (35), Kimpioka (47)
Referee: Tom Reeves
Kick-off time: 1pm
Venue: Carrow Road