FA Youth Cup: Watford 3, Norwich City 1
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Norwich City’s defence of the FA Youth Cup has been brought to an end in the fourth round at Vicarage Road this afternoon.
With several of the Under-18s squad which won the trophy last season now ineligible, it was always going to be difficult for the new group of youngsters to repeat the success, and so that proved.
City started the match in the worst possible fashion, conceding after just 39 seconds.
Good link play between Watford strikers Alex Jakubiak and Tom Rosenthal allowed Jakubiak to lash home from the edge of the box on the half-volley, with his swerving effort too powerful for City keeper Ben Killip.
Watford were clearly fired up to take the scalp of the cup holders, and looked to have an extra yard of pace on the Norwich youngsters.
The home side doubled their lead in the 12th minute after left-back Ben Wyatt bundled over Jakubiak in the box to give away a penalty, and was booked for the foul.
Left-back Josh Doherty curled the spot-kick into the bottom left-hand corner, past the grasping hand of Killip, to make it 2-0.
The young Canaries were really struggling to get going and they fell 3-0 behind in the 21st minute, to a cracking effort from Hornets midfielder George Byers.
The City defence cleared their lines but only as far as Byers around 25 yards from goal, who unleashed a rasping drive which went in off the left-hand post.
Coach Neil Adams made a change in the 25th minute, bringing on defender Ben Burgess for midfielder Ray Grant and switching to a 5-3-2 formation, pushing Wyatt and skipper Cameron Norman forward as wing-backs.
The change at least gave City a foothold in the game and they pressed for a goal ahead of the break, but Norman was the closest just before half-time, with a powerful rising drive towards the top-right corner forcing Watford keeper Daniel Wilks into a good save.
After the break City looked much better though, continuing to press forward and coming close to scoring through the tricky Jamie Eaton-Collins in the 54th minute.
The attacker’s well-struck effort from 25 yards was swerving towards the bottom left-hand corner, only for Wilks to turn it behind.
But the goal finally came in the 62nd minute, from City’s fourth corner of the half and 10th overall.
Norman’s corner from the right was met on the far side of the box by centre-back Kevin Lokko, who headed down into the crowded box, where Rhys Browne was waiting to head home from close range.
The young Canaries continued to pile on the pressure but just couldn’t find the killer instinct to force their way back into the tie, eventually running out of steam in a reasonably uneventful end to the match after a breathless first half.
The defeat sees City miss out on a home tie with Liverpool in the fifth round and left Adams to pick up the disappointed youngsters, who were ruthlessly punished for their early nerves.
Click here to re-live the match through our live coverage from Vicarage Road and see Monday’s Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News for a full match report and reaction.
• Norwich U18s: Ben Killip, Cameron Norman (C), Reiss Awuah (Michee Efete 84), Kevin Lokko, Ben Wyatt, Henry Randall (Harrison Heath 60), Harvey Hodd, Ray Grant (Ben Burgess 25), Rhys Browne, Carlton Morris, Jamie Eaton-Collins. Unused subs: Aston Oxborough, Lewis Byrne-Hewitt.
• Watford U18s: Daniel Wilks, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Josh Doherty, George Byers, Jorell Johnson (C) (Matthew Hall 68), Alfie Young, Chris Dillon, Ryan Hope, Alex Jakubiak, Tom Rosenthal (Dennon Lewis 61), Harry Kyprianou. Unused subs: Mahalondo Martin, Ollie Cox, Bobson Bawling.
• Attendance: 472