Norwich City Under-23s were thwarted by West Ham 4-1 on Friday evening, at Lotus Training Centre.
As the game kicked off, City brought a good energy from the start, bursting out the gates with a high press and sharp defence. Although no chances came within the first ten minutes for either side, the Canaries enjoyed most of the possession and looked in great shape for the game ahead.
City's first real sight of goal came from Gassan Ahadme in the twelfth minute. The striker layed the ball off to Philip Heise, who crossed it straight back into the box, forcing a West Ham shirt to act and clear the ball in a panic.
Despite all the action going City's way, no effort could be converted into a goal, the same couldn't be said for West Ham. The Hammers first chance came from a crossed effort into the City box, which found Anthony Scully. The effort ended with West Ham's top goalscorer lacing the ball to the back of the net. A confidence knocker for the Canaries, who dominated the start of the first half.
The young Canaries tried to answer back almost immediately, with Ahadme making yet another run into the Hammers box in the 23rd minute. The effort fell at the final hurdle however, when the decisive pass was intercepted by a slide tackle, clearing the danger.
The efforts didn't stop there for the Canaries, who were still looking to find the leveller in the first-half. Winger Josh Martin made a solo run towards the West Ham defence, before putting his foot through the ball at goal. The shot was deflected, yet remained on target, leaving the 'keeper to make a large effort to keep the away sides advantage.
League leaders West Ham showed just why they’re undefeated this season, continually putting the pressure on City, with several shots letting the Canaries know they were still there, waiting to capitalise on any error the home-side made. One example of this came from Emmanuel Longelo, the defender struck the ball nicely from outside the box, just missing the post by millimetres.
The warnings kept coming, and City had no response to them. The visitor’s efforts paid off in the 36th minute, when a crossed effort brushed past the sea of both shirts, finding the unmarked man Dan Kemp, who blazed the ball on the half-volley past Archie Mair between the sticks.
The first-half was all but over, just minutes remained and City still seemed to be lacking something. Not West Ham. The Hammers were consistent in coming forward, exploiting the wing on counter-attacks, leaving crosses just needing to find the right body in the box to see the scoring rise once more. Just that happened in the 43rd minute, when Dan Kemp found himself unmarked once more, this time receiving the ball in the six-yard box, leaving just a simple tap-in required to take it to an unsightly 3-0 as the first-half concluded
The second-half started, with City seeming to reflect the same attitude they had at the beginning of the match. West Ham seemed lax on the flip side, knowing they were 3-0 up allowing them to relax a little more than usual. This was a mistake most teams made when playing the Canaries, with many seeming to forget the game hadn’t ended. A blunder from West Ham in the defence found the ball at the feet of Ahadme, leaving the striker one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Not wasting the best opportunity of the game yet, Ahadme saw the ball into the top corner, lowering the gap in the scoring.
From here, West Ham decided to wake-up, and although not recovering their first-half form, the Hammers put in more effort to keep the ball out of their net. City attempted to raise their game, with glimmers of hope coming scarcely. One of these glimmers came from in the 66th minute a moment in which Louis Lomas crossed the ball to the opposite wing, landing at the feet of Rob Nizet. The left-back made a run into the box before trying his luck on goal, shooting with his right foot. Unfortunately for Nizet, the ball just rolled past the far post, an excruciating moment to see for both players and fans, who thought it would be nothing but another goal.
Just when play started to look in favour of the Canaries, the game was effectively sealed in the 74th minute. Substitute Amadou Diallo fancied his chances, making a run straight at Mair, who came out to dispossess the Hammer. Diallo managed to knock the ball just wide of the City ‘keeper, leaving him facing an open goal, tapping in another simple effort and taking the score to 4-1. A score that remained the same for the next 15 minutes until the referee blew the full-time whistle.
Norwich City U23s: Mair, Thomas, Nizet (Fitzpatrick 71), Omobamidele, Lomas, McAlear, Martin (Hondermarck, 78), Adshead, Ahadme, Thorvaldsson (c), Heise
Subs not used: Johnson, Hutchinson
Bookings: Omobamidele (49, 84)
Red cards: Omobamidele (84)
West Ham United U23s: Anang, Rosa, Longelo (Ashby, 84), Coventry (c), Cardoso, Caiger, Kemp, Lewis, Scully, Powell (Watson, 68), Holland (Diallo, 60)
Subs not used: Baptiste, Roach
Bookings: Kemp (72), Watson (86)
Goals: Scully (17), Kemp (36, 43), Diallo (74)
Referee: Carl Brook
Kick off time: 7pm
Venue: Lotus Training Centre