Norwich City Under-21s made their long journey to Plymouth Argyle worth it in a 3-2 win over the Pilgrims on Tuesday night, taking three points in their first group stage game of the EFL Trophy.
Under-21s coach David Wright fielded the exact same starting line-up as the one seen a week previously against King’s Lynn Town in a pre-season friendly, with the bench filled with Under-18s from Steve Weaver’s development squad.
In the game's opening exchanges, it was City whose attack seemed to have a bit more of an impact, attacking down both flanks. However, the Pilgrims pressed intensely, leading to them enjoying more of the possession.
This possession gave Plymouth as a shot on the edge of the City 18-yard box just missed the crossbar to keep the scores level.
After soaking up the Pilgrims' attacks, City found themselves with a chance of their own, William Hondermarck turning and letting fly but his shot was off target.
From their goal-kick, the Plymouth 'keeper was called into action as Matthew Dennis chased the ball down into empty space of their box. Ruddy reacted to clear but only as far as Hondermarck who steered the ball home from distance to give City the lead.
Argyle looked to recover as soon as they could, upping the intensity their press. Yet another distanced effort from the home side tested Canaries ‘keeper Jon McCracken this time.
Just before the turn of the 40th-minute, Plymouth got their leveller. After pressing City relentlessly for nearly 15-minutes, the Pilgrims managed to find their way into the Canaries 18-yard box. Jon Tomkinson brought the attack to a stop with a foul from behind and the referee didn’t like what he saw as he pointed to the spot - the penalty subsequently being converted.
Heading into half-time level, the last 45-minutes against senior opposition was sure to be a big test for the Canaries but they looked to start the second-half as they meant to go on, going for goal early. Summer signing Dennis found himself one-on-one with Ruddy, his shot just saved by the ‘keepers trailing leg.
Less than ten-minutes into the second-half, City were ahead again. Hondermarck turned scorer to assister with a top-class through ball to release Tyrese Omotoye, who rounded the 'keeper and tapped his goal into an empty net to make it 2-1.
It was clearly a competitive game between the young Canaries and the senior Argyle side, as the Pilgrims pushed to level for the second-time. A deflected cross from the left-flank bounced into the path of striker Dom Telford, who nestled it past McCracken with a header to find the hosts' second goal of the evening.
If the intense nature of this back and forth needed proving, City’s third goal should’ve provided more than enough evidence.
A surge forward from young winger Josh Giurgi ended in the Irishman squaring the ball into the box, seemingly behind Dennis. The position of the cross didn’t concern the ex-Arsenal forward, who spun and flicked the ball past the ‘keeper from close range to restore the young Canaries' lead for a third-time.
The young Canaries were the better side on the night against senior opposition, taking all three points back to East Anglia in their EFL Trophy campaign.
Norwich City Starting XI: McCracken, Vaughan (Jackson, 71), Omobamidele, Tomkinson, Nizet, Giurgi, McAlear, Dronfield, Hondermarck, Dennis (Springett, 82), Omotoye
Subs not used: Dickson-Peters, Blair, Rowe, Warner
Goals: Hondermarck (25), Omotoye (54), Dennis (67)
Plymouth Argyle Starting XI: Ruddy, Sawyer (Pursall, 75), Canavan, Telford, Moore (Edwards, 82), Lolos, Randell, Law, Camara, Jephcott (Hardy, 68), Tomlinson
Subs not used: Cooper, Wootton, Miller, Craske
Goals: Lolos (39), Telford (62)
Bookings: Law (83)
Photo Credit: Pinnacle Photo Agency