Norwich City’s Under-23s lose 4-1 against Southampton at Staplewood Training ground with Pierre Fonkeu netting Norwich’s only goal on his return from injury.
The Saints got off to a strong start after Tyreke N’Lundulu put the home side ahead 15 minutes in when he poked the ball past Jon McCracken at the second time of asking. City responded well but were dealt a sucker-punch just before half-time when Thomas O’Connor headed home a corner to put Southampton 2-0 up at the break.
Johnson extended Southampton’s lead second’s into the second half when the forward stroked the ball past McCracken after being sent though on-goal. After dominating large parts of the second half, Pierre Fonkeu marked his return from injury for Norwich with a fine finish following Idah’s cross 11 minutes from time. However Will Smallbone’s driven shot from the edge of the City box cancelled out any sign off a comeback and rounded of a clinical performance for the Saints.
Jon McCracken started in-goal for the Canaries behind a a back four which saw three changes to the side that played last time out. Andrew Omobamidele and Alfie Payne started as full-back, whilst the returning Ciaren Jones partnered Lois Lomas at centre-back.
Tom Scully and Saul Milovanovic were City’s midfield duo, with Isak Thorvaldsson and Josh Coley starting on the flanks against the Saints. Adam Idah once again started up top for Norwich and was joined by Carlton Morris who started his first game since returning from injury.
The home side got the game under way and could have went ahead 50 seconds into the game when Jake Vokins’ pass found Tyreke Johnson who found some space in the City box before placing a shot on the outside of McCracken’s right hand post.
City’s first chance of the game came 13 minutes in when Coley pressured Kayne Ramsey before winning possession and releasing Morris through on-goal. The striker saw his shot deflect off a Saints defender before the ball fell kindly for Fraser Forster who caught the ball with ease.
However, two minutes later Southampton took the lead and capitalised on their strong start. A cross from the left was met by N’Lundulu whose first headed attempt was saved by the legs of McCracken, but the ball rebounded straight back into the path of N’Lundulu who poked home.
The Saints were close to getting another three minutes later, but this time the goal scorer was denied by the fingertips of McCracken who kept out N’Lundulu’s driven left-footed shot from the just outside the six-yard box.
City responded well, despite the Saints looking a threat on the attack. An opening came 28 minutes in when Morris squared the ball to Thorvaldsson, but the striker was unable to keep his shot down with the ball flying over Forster’s goal.
Ten minutes before half-time Norwich started to step up there pressure in search of an equaliser with Coley creating a golden chance. The midfielder drove past three Southampton defenders before curling a cross in to the near post; however his cross was hooked away before it could reach Idah.
City were dealt another blow just before half-time when O’Connor was first to the ball following a Saints corner before the midfielder saw his headed effort nestle into the back of the net to give Southampton a two-goal cushion at the break.
Seconds into the second half the hosts extended their lead when Johnson was played through on-goal. The forward proceeded to take a couple of touches before stroking the ball into the back of the net.
Ten minutes later after a positive spell for City, Coley managed to find some space on the edge of the home box before drilling a shot towards goal. However, his shot saw a deflection take all the pace off the ball which allowed the ball to run on for Forster to collect.
Two minutes later Southampton thought they have extended their lead when Natahan Tella volleyed a ball into the bottom left corner, but the forward was judged to be in an offside position when the ball was floated in.
Mid-way through the second-half Payne’s free-kick from the left was curled into the box but somehow missed everyone before going out for a goal kick. City carried on their spell of pressure one minute later when Alfie Jones was forced into making a last ditch sliding tackle to stop Idah from getting on the end of Coley’s cross.
With 15 minutes left to play City had yet another chance, but this time Idah couldn’t direct his shot on-target. The striker weaved his way into a shooting position from the left before drifting a weak effort wide of the Saints goal.
Four minutes later the Canaries pulled a deserved goal back when substitute Pierre Fonkeu got onto the end of Idah’s cross before powering home to give Norwich a lifeline in the latter stages at Staplewood.
Southampton cancelled out any sign of a comeback when Will Smallbone drilled the ball into the far left corner from the edge of the box to get the Saints’ three-goal cushion back.
City’s Starting XI: McCracken; Omobamidele, Lomas, Jones, Payne, Milovanovic, Scully (McIntosh 82), Coley, Thorvaldsson, Idah, Morris (Fonkeu 46)
Unused Subs: Johnson (GK)
Photograph: James Bridle