Norwich City head of football development Steve Weaver wasn’t left disappointed after the Under-18s 3-2 loss to Ipswich Town in their friendly on Tuesday.
Going two goals down in quick succession, it was an uphill battle for the U18s, who fought back in the second-half to level the scoring. The game finished in Ipswich’s favour, when they scored with the last kick of the game.
Asked for his thoughts on the performance, Weaver was delighted with what he saw from his side, saying they got the minutes they wanted from the game, especially from an intense derby.
“It was great, for us it’s about the young lads playing a number of games. As you’ve seen we mixed it up on Saturday against Leicester and we’ve mixed it up again today. Some of these lads have played two games in three days, which is really tough for them at this age.
“I think the important thing is just getting minutes in their legs. We’re trying something different this year, especially in the early part, we’re putting teams out to get used to that level because if they get into first-teams at 18-19 then they would’ve been used to it already.
“We made a lot of changes and in the first-half I thought that broke up our rhythm a little bit, we started well in the first ten-minutes, then second-best until half-time and probably deservedly two down.
“It wasn’t us, not how we’ve been playing anyway. We had a few words with the lads at half-time and said we should have a bit of a go, since it’s a derby. We got it back to two and I thought in the second-half there was only going to be on team potentially going on to win it, that team being us.
“I was a bit disappointed with our final ball, if I’m being honest. We ran 30-yards from goal, got so many great opportunities to go and punish them and instead we got done on the sucker punch.
“It’s always disappointing to lose, but it is what it is, we achieved what we came to do. These lads are starting to get a lot of football in their legs and you can see the development in them, which is really important for us.”
Despite being a friendly, the game had plenty of tension as a mock-up East Anglian derby. Weaver made his affection for derby games clear, emphasising their importance at an Academy level.
“It’s a derby isn’t it? It’s great, that’s the games we want. I’m pretty sure during the season we’ll have a few more games at 23s and 18s and I think it’s really important. I love derby games at every level, I know we don’t play at first-team level, but they’re great games that are properly competitive.
“I don’t think there’s enough of that in youth football. We could play more regularly against Ipswich if I had my own way, but a derby is important.”
Recently joining from the U16s, right-back Ola Okeowo gave the Canaries hope with his goal early in the second-half. Speaking on his impact, as well as the other new scholars, Weaver believes they've all come in and played their part well.
“As of Saturday, all of our lads would have played four games or more, every player. When you sign as a scholar the last thing you want is to not be playing, which happens at other clubs.
“We make sure everyone plays and today was great, Ola [Okeowo] had his first start and a great goal. Sol [Alidor-Hamilton], Lewis [Shipley], Brad [Hills] have all come on and have been part of what we’ve done, they’re getting a lot of football and long may it continue.”