Norwich City Under-18s suffered a 5-3 loss to Fulham at Motspur Park on Saturday, with the home side taking home all three points in an eight-goal game.
A cold, windy day at Motspur Park saw the sides waste no time in bringing a high-intensity game from the first whistle. Fulham came bursting out of the gates, bringing a fast-paced energy to the Canaries’ doorstep, leaving them no time to settle into the match. This plan worked a treat for the home-side, who saw a squared effort find Jay Stansfield, who tapped the chance behind Sam Blair to find an early advantage.
The Canaries’ weren’t going to take that lying down, just minutes later City found some space from the high press of Fulham, allowing them to crawl up the pitch with one-touch passes, ending with Josh Giurgi making a run into the box and seeing the visitor’s first chance finish with a goal, levelling the scores up by the seventh minute.
The scores stood 1-1 by the first ten minutes, and neither side were looking to slow. Fulham found themselves on the edge of the City box, passing the ball around trying to find any space to play into, to no avail. However, this was no problem for Sylvester Jasper, who took a touch on the edge of the box before curling the ball over the back-line and past Blair between the sticks, opening the scoring once more.
Despite three goals being scored within the first 15 minutes, possession wasn’t being solidly held by either team, often losing the ball as it slipped away on the wet turf. The most remarkable thing about that is the goal count being so high, both teams were as clinical they could be early on, deservingly bagging goal after goal.
In what could only be described as a chaotic 20 minutes, a breather was taken for a free-kick on the edge of the Canaries box. Two Fulham player’s stepped up, one of which was the earlier scoring Jasper. A tricky set-piece, including a fake run and a fake shot left the Canaries scratching their heads, before the real free-kick was taken, a simple pass down the line. A run had been made down the wing and the ball was crossed into the mixer of players, finding Stansfield once more, who rocketed the ball to the same position he had earlier.
A sense of déjà vu lingered, as City came out from the kick-off with big intentions on scoring another, looking to get closer to that elusive equaliser. Their wish was finally answered when a dodgy challenge on the edge of the Fulham box saw a free-kick given. Tom Dickson-Peters stepped up, looking confident of making something from this position. The Fulham ‘keeper was shouting orders to his wall, constantly repositioning himself in worry of where the ball could go. In the end, it didn’t matter to Dickson-Peters, who curled the ball beautifully over the wall, finding the top bins of the Fulham goal with absolute certainty.
After five goals in just 20 minutes, the question burned of how long these constant barrages at each end could continue. The answer was not long, by the 30th minute both teams had started to settle in, reading the play a lot better and making it harder to score than it had seemed earlier. It felt as if the game would finally relax, and take a slower pace.
After an actionless 15 minutes, compared to the first 30, the first-half was coming to an end. City were a goal down approaching the 45 minute mark, but were clearly trying to change that for the better, with a press not too dissimilar to the play shown earlier on. The 45th minute hit, it seemed just seconds before the referee blew his whistle, when the Canaries struck gold. A run forward by defender Jaden Warner ended in a simple through ball to Tyrese Omotoye, who caught the Fulham back-line not paying attention. Although a tight angle, Omotoye slotted the ball to the back of the net, taking it to a whopping 3-3 by the end of the first-half.
As the second-half began, it had a very similar feeling to the beginning of the first, with Fulham rushing out to try and make something happen early, and it was just that they did. A dodgy challenge in the City box saw the referee half-heartedly give a penalty, it seemed from his angle he was unsighted and almost based his decision from the calls around him. Stansfield stepped up to the spot, and sent it to the bottom-left corner, sending Blair the wrong way. Just a single minute in and the scores had reached 4-3.
Bad went to worse for the Canaries, who weren’t awake when they needed to be, with Stansfield running into the box and lacing it with ease to the back of the net once more, making it his fourth goal of the game, and second in just four minutes.
From here, the game felt actionless compared to it’s prior 50 minutes. Fulham decided to sit back and defend, and neither team could really finish their chances, taking until the 77th minute for the first sight of goal to be had, an effort from Omotoye that was barely tipped wide by the Fulham ‘keeper. The game ended 5-3 in an exciting first-half match, with the home side taking all three points.
Norwich City U18s: Blair, Jackson, Stewart (Vaughan, 69), Tomkinson, Warner, Khumbeni, Giurgi (Springett, 60), Dronfield, Omotoye, Dickson-Peters, Rowe (Shakpoke, 60)
Subs not used: Rose, Kamara
Bookings: Stewart (34), Dronfield (71)
Goals: Giurgi (8), Dickson-Peters (23), Omotoye (45)
Fulham U18s: Chisholm, McAvoy, Odutayo, Page, Bowat, Murphy, Tiehi (Bieveth, 69), O’Neill, Stansfield, Jasper, Ablade
Subs not used: Hood, Williams, Lanquedoc
Bookings: McAvoy (66)
Goals: Stansfield (4, 17, 48, 52), Jasper (13)
Referee: Andrew Bennett
Kick off time: 12pm
Venue: Motspur Park