A STRONG Norwich City Under-21s team produced an excellent performance to beat Southampton 2-0 at Colney Training Centre on Monday afternoon.
Jamar Loza and Carlton Morris got the goals either side of the break for a Canaries side that utilised the rule allowing three over-age outfield players in the competition.
Ryan Bennett made his first playing return from his hamstring injury, completing an hour, while Tony Andreu and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe featured and impressed in a dominant performance by Paul Wilkinson's side.
"It was very good. One of the most important things for us is the senior pros who come into the team, and they showed a great attitude," said Wilkinson after the match.
"They enabled us to have a lot of creativity on the day and that meant we had a lot of opportunities. Thankfully we took a couple of them and came out deserved winners."
Recognisable names on the teamsheet of each side indicated that this game was going to be of high quality but it was Norwich who took control of the contest early on.
They were sharper on and off the ball than their visitors, who would have gone top of the Barclays Under-21s Premier League with victory here and who reached the final of the Premier League Cup last week.
Andreu saw two long-range efforts blocked for a relentness City before Loza put them deservedly in front on 11 minutes.
The Jamaica international striker was played into the right channel by Jacob Murphy, and his finish was precise beyond Saints goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Gazzaniga denied Loza with a sprawling save nine minutes later, and it took until just before the half hour mark for Southampton to have their first effort through Jake Sinclair.
Odjidja and Andreu were seeing plenty of the ball in the middle of the park for City, with the latter lofting a ball forward to Morris for their next chance, who saw his shot deflected over.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1-0 Southampton
Gazzaniga was forced into action three times within three minutes of the second half as Norwich continued on the front foot.
He denied Andreu twice and Murphy just before his team rallied for a short spell, forcing their hosts back for the first and only time in the match.
Ryan Seager wasted their best chance, firing the ball over following a neat one-two with Sinclair.
City quickly regained control and after Gazzaniga rushed off his line to prevent Morris slotting home, they opened up a cushion with their second on 57 minutes.
Gazzaniga somehow kept out Bennett's header, but Loza collected the ball on the right and crossed for Morris, who turned the ball into the empty net from close-range.
Odjidja's endeavours in midfield warranted a goal and he nearly got it on 63 minutes but saw his drive beaten away by Southampton's goalkeeper.
Loza went close to adding another as Wilkinson's youngsters eased through the final third of the game, and even in the final moments they were still the team applying the most pressure.
2-0 was to be scoreline at the match's conclusion, though, and City could be pleased with their day's work as they extended their unbeaten league run to seven.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 2-0 Southampton
GOALS: Canaries: Jamar Loza (11), Carlton Morris (57)
NORWICH CITY: Matthews; Hall-Johnson, McFadden (c), R Bennett (Efete 60), Kelly; McGrandles, Odjidja, Andreu; Jacob Murphy, Loza, Morris. Subs not used: Grant, Oxborough (GK), Norman, Ramsay.
SOUTHAMPTON: Gazzaniga, Mason, McCarthy (c), Wood, Debayo, Gape, Hesketh, Seager, Sinclair (McQueen 60), Isgrove, Gallagher (Sims 73). Subs not used: Britt (GK), Mugabi, Jones.
REFEREE: C Pollard