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Match Reports

Under-23s defeated by Exeter in PL Cup

11 February 2019

Norwich City Under-23’s lost 3-0 against Exeter City in the Premier League Cup after a clinical second half from the visitors.

Exeter started on the front foot, but as the first half went on City came into the game and very nearly went ahead mid-way through the first half after Josh Coley chested down a cross before seeing his volley saved superbly.

The second half saw a quick double from the visitors before Josh Key’s 81st minute header at the front post put the game out of reach of City.

Jon McCracken replaced Nick Hayes between the sticks for the Canaries, with Billy Johnson on the bench. Bilal Kamal and Atli Barkarson remained as the full-back pair and the defensive centre-back pairing was made up of Louis Lomas and Aaron Ekumah.

The midfield remained unchanged; Alfie Payne partnering Saul Milovanovic with Josh Coley on the left hand side of midfield and Isak Thorvaldsson on the right. Tom Scully started in a more attacking midfield role, just behind Adam Idah who was a lone striker for the game.

The visitors had the first chance of the game, after a dominant opening spell of pressure for the Grecians. Josh Key’s glancing toe poke was met by the hands of McCracken who made a smart catch from close range.

City started to see more of the ball, but a mistake in the heart of the City midfield allowed Harry Kite to pounce before passing to Ben Seymour, but the midfielder took a touch and saw a weak effort drift well wide of the City goal.

Despite City dominating possession mid-way through the first half, the Grecians were always a threat. Joe Randall was left with plenty of space on the edge of the City box 26 minutes in, but the forward could only direct his shot into the hands of McCracken.

City’s first chance came 31 minutes into the game, and it was nearly a sensational goal. Idah dribbled past key before pulling it back to Payne, but his effort was blocked before it could reach the visitors goal.

City started to pile the pressure on as the half progressed, and were unfortunate not to go ahead with just under 15 minutes of the first half left to play. Coley brought the ball down with his chest before volleying towards goal, but Norman produced a fine diving save to deny Coley of his first City goal.

At the start of the second half Jack Sparkes turned to find a bit of room in the box before powering towards goal, only for his shot to be blocked by Ekumah on the goal line. The ball fell for Sparkes again, who tried to place his shot this time but the result was the same and Ekumah was there to block the ball again.

Exeter started the second half much the better side, and their pressure was rewarded when Alex Hartridge got on the end of a corner to head home from the edge of the six-yard box and put the visitors ahead 53 minutes in. They then doubled their lead 10 minutes later, as they continued to press City back.

With just over 15 minutes left to play, McCracken’s long ball over the Exeter defence was met by Idah who turned the defender before curling a left-footed shot towards goal, which then forced Norman into a diving save.

The Grecians added a third one minute later. A corner from the right found the head of Josh Key who managed to power home from the front post to put the game out of reach of City.

Kole Lambert came on and made his first appearance for the Under-23s since joining Norwich in the transfer window, and very nearly got on the score sheet. Coley’s cross was just behind Lambert in the box, but the striker did well to get a head to it, but he couldn’t direct it on target.

City finished the game with a front three of players eligible for the Under-18s along with three of the back four also able to play for the under-18s which shows just how young the side put out to face Exeter was.

City starting XI: McCracken; Kamal, Barkarson, Lomas, Ekumah, Milovanovic (Lambert 76), Thorvaldsson, Payne (C), Idah, Scully, Coley.

Unused Subs: Keller, Dronfield, Johnson


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