The Under-18s took a point home with them after drawing 3-3 with Swansea on Saturday.
As rain soaked the pitch, the conditions of the game were already looking dismal by the first whistle. The ball was heavy on the ground and was slipping away from the boots of the players, a lot of work was needed for any form of smooth play to be made.
The game started well for the Canaries, who were dealing with the less than optimal conditions better than their opponents. This was shown in the seventh minute by an early goal from Josh Giurgi. The forward made a run down the line, whipping in a cross for his teammates. As the ball curled towards goal it had seemed that Giurgi simply misplaced it and the ‘keeper would catch it to see away danger. This didn’t happen however, as the ‘keeper jumped for the ball he missed it as it curled into the top corner, giving the Canaries the advantage early, albeit a bit of a surprising one.
From here, the game was relatively actionless, neither team could maintain their control on the ball as they built up chances, resulting in a clearance or loss of possession. The Swan’s only real chance came just before the 40th minute, as a low-driven cross found a Swansea shirt. The effort was laced towards goal but was deflected just before it was left up to Joe Rose to save.
On the flipside, City’s only real chance since the goal came from Jon Rowe. The forward fancied his chances as he ran straight at the Swansea defence, pulling step-overs out of his locker before beating the defender and striking his effort beautifully. Unfortunately for Rowe, the ‘keeper was sharp to react and got his gloves to the ball.
As the referee blew the whistle, indicating the end of the first-half, Swansea players looked upset to say the least. They felt they deserved more than one chance, and in fairness both side did. The weather was not permitting of any audacious play or silky passing, leaving both teams falling short at the final hurdle. With the rain just getting worse, City and Swansea had to either adapt, or play another 45 minutes of scrappy football.
As the teams came out for the second-half, Swansea looked a lot more composed. There wasn’t so much visible emotion, and that can most likely be put down to their coach giving them a half-time talk. Whatever he said must have worked, as Swansea scored a leveler within minutes of the start of the first-half. It came by way of Cameron Congreve, receiving a through-ball, the Swansea man dribbled nicely into the box, until he just flicked it past Rose to the bottom corner.
After gaining that momentum, it was clear that Swansea didn’t want to let up, bundles of energy pressed the City defence until it crumbled, allowing top-scorer Joshua Thomas to bury another one past the Canaries ‘keeper.
Tom Dickson-Peters nearly shut down this lead early, after receiving the ball on the edge of the box, cutting in on his left and striking it on goal, frustratingly for the Canaries this effort was just wide, continuing the struggle of finding that leveler that Swansea needed not so long ago.
From here, the game fell flat once more. The teams were doing a lot more with the ball, and creating a lot more chances, but chances don’t mean anything if they aren’t converted to goals eventually.
Luckily for the Canaries, their time was coming. A bundle of players saw the ball whipped in from a cross, as it bounced around the box there was an expectation to see it come flying back out as a result of a clearance, not on this occasion. Eddie Jackson stepped up, blazing the ball as he separated the sea of both shirts. Fortune was on the defender’s side slightly here, as the ball ricocheted off one or two white shirts before crawling painfully over the line. A sense of hope resounded among the players, as they finally broke the goalless half they were having.
Above all else in the game, the end was certainly the climax. The young Canaries were all over the 20 minutes, bringing Swansea an energy not seen for the whole game. The Swans only method to contain this was to swing a boot at it and clear it from danger, working consistently against all odds. Furthering defying the odds was the fact that Swansea scored instead of City! A run by Thomas was met by Rose, who ran out to stifle any danger before it got too uncomfortable. Whether he stayed or ran out to meet the ball made no difference, as Thomas dribbled past the ‘keeper again, leaving an open goal to tap the ball into. City heads hung as they felt it was lost and surely another point escaping their grasp.
If one thing is for certain, it’s that across all ages, the Canaries play to the end. After conceding, the squad packed the halfway line before the reset and set off with their continued energy. Swansea became complacent, going in for half-hearted tackles and letting City claim the ball in challenges they should have been making. It came down to the last chance of the game, a chance which the Canaries weren’t going to miss out on. A run down the line by Sean Stewart became physical, with a Swansea man trying to get him off the ball until the last whistle, brilliantly, Stewart stood his ground and passed the defender. The left-back whipped the ball in to Tyrese Omotoye, unmarked and primed to strike. The forward timed a volley perfectly, sending the effort into the bottom corner, far from the ‘keepers reach, and salvaging a point for the side.
Norwich City U18s: Rose, Jackson, Stuart, Tomkinson, Warner, Khumbeni (Springett, 61), Giurgi (Pitcher, 61), Dronfield (c), Omotoye, Dickson-Peters, Rowe (Kamara, 68)
Subs not used: Blair, Brown
Goals: Giurgi (10), Jackson (72), Omotoye (90+2)
Swansea City U18s: Evans, Thomas, Ludvigsen, Kenko-Djoudie, Shields, Clark, Williams (Edwards 81), McKendry, Clancy (Edwards, 73), Thomas, Congreve (Motruk, 82)
Subs not used: Davies, Webb
Goals: Congreve (48), Thomas (53, 90)
Referee: Mark Ames
Kick off time: 1pm
Venue: Warwick University