Norwich City Under-23s took home all three points after a last gasp winner against Reading on Monday night.
The Canaries wasted no time in trying to open the gap early, building their way up the pitch right to Reading’s doorstep in the second minute. The defence was packed and the bus was parked, leaving Dan Adshead no choice but to whip one over the top, an effort which left the ‘keeper having to react quickly and tip the ball over the bar. A great start from the Canaries, but the defence was yet to be tested.
The Canaries enjoyed most of the possession in the first ten minutes, just losing the ball in the final third or seeing their efforts amount to very little. Regardless, they were defending well and stifling any threat before they could test City ‘keeper Joe Rose on his U23s debut.
The wet conditions were partially liable in this game, having poured it down just 30 minutes before the game began. Although the rain had stopped by the time of kick-off, the wet surface caused many slips and fumbles of the ball, meaning both teams lacked flair they would most likely prefer on a dry pitch. It was sure to take some time to adjust to, but nothing the young Canaries weren't used to.
By the 25th minute, Reading had their fans on the edge of their seats, delivering the ball into City’s box time after time and applying immense pressure on the Canaries. Rose dealt with it exceptionally, keeping his cool in a heated moment before the defence saw the ball cleared. A great counter involving Josh Martin and Gassan Ahadme nearly saw a goal go City’s way, but the effort just spilled wide as the game kept trudging on 0-0.
A blunder in defence just before half-time saw Ahadme pick the ball up on the edge of the Royals’ box, the striker took a few strides into the box before lacing it, the ‘keeper would’ve never reached it but his defenders got back just in time to deflect the effort.
The whistle for half-time went, and both teams returned to their dressing room lacking a goal either end. The next 45 minutes were bound to be a battle between two point-hungry teams.
As the second-half began, it felt more like a tennis match than a football match. Both sides found chances at each end, putting each other through torment as they defended before springing up to try and recover the ball for an attack of their own. Although it still remained goalless by the hour-mark, both teams were playing some dangerous football, the game could go either way.
Whether it be by choice or forced by Reading, City were playing a lot deeper in the second-half, waiting to catch the Royals on the break. They had more joy with this, regardless of if it was voluntary, as Reading came out of their shells, meaning it was easier to attack the side during chances. It was clear this was the Canaries best chance of bagging a goal.
Although both teams were attacking each other well, one lacking factor was the final-third, neither side able to find the decisive pass. The closest chance since the first-half came from a City corner, as the cross found the head of Ahadme, who just rolled it slightly wide, as it painfully ricocheted off the Reading post, saving them from the gap being opened early.
Just as the 90 minute-mark struck, and it seemed certain to end in a 0-0 draw, the young Canaries hit the jackpot. A poorly judged pass from the Reading ‘keeper was capitalized by Adam Idah, who stole it from the defender. Idah was left one-on-one with the ‘keeper, left to be buried. The twist came when he instead squared it to Ahadme, who tapped it into an open goal and giving the Canaries their first win since Sunderland in August.
Norwich City U23s: Rose, Thomas, Nizet, Omobamidele, Famewo (c), Adshead, Martin (Hondermarck, 76), Thorvaldsson (McAlear, 58), Idah, Ahadme, Heise
Subs not used: Johnson, Lomas, Hutchinson
Bookings: Omobamidele (62)
Goals: Ahadme (90)
Reading U23s: Boyce-Clark, Odimayo, Dorsett, Elva-Fountaine, Samuels, Adam (Frost, 27), East, Nditi, Nevers, Liddle, Barrett
Subs not used: Roberts, Werick Maciel
Referee: Adrian Quelch
Kick off time: 7pm
Venue: Adams Park