Norwich City Under-21s 3, Sunderland Under-21s 0
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Norwich City’s Under-21s moved into the Premier Development League’s top ten with a 3-0 win over Sunderland’s Under-21s on Monday night at Carrow Road.
Jamar Loza pounced with 14 seconds gone for Mark Robson’s side before Josh Murphy doubled the hosts’ early lead but City were indebted to experienced keeper Carlo Nash who saved Jordan Laidler’s 41st minute penalty. Josh Murphy sealed an impressive win in the final minute of stoppage time for a City line up that featured David Fox who played the full 90 minutes as an over-age outfield player.
“I thought we played very well in the first half,” said Robson. “Both teams put on a decent display. I was quite impressed with them, they move it quickly and play at a tempo. We knew that but the boys dealt with it well. They kept calm and perhaps could have created even more but it was a fantastic start. Credit to Jamar he took his goal ever so well after young Granty (Ray Grant) nicked the ball and then Foxy nicked it for the second and the Murphys did the rest. To get two so early in the game steadied us and when we had the ball we looked in control.
“We lost our way a little in the second half and we were a bit too open. It was a great save from Nashy. He has had a couple of games for us now and he has done well. It is great to have that experience behind a young back four and of course Foxy in midfield he has a nice calming influence on the game. He passed it well and I thought him and Ray were good in the middle of the park. They are two quite similar players and you are never sure quite how that will work but it was really good.”
Robson felt it was also important to respond after last week’s surprise Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final exit to non-league Gorleston.
“One of the things I looked at when I first came to the club was that winning mentality,” he said. “We had a disappointing result during the last week in the Norfolk Senior Cup, albeit we made a few changes, but that was a development game for us and a new experience. One lad came up to me at the end and he had never played in a game like that in his life. They were up and at us and really physical and we struggled with a young side against Gorleston but it was a good learning curve.
“We want to try and get that winning mentality because this is the next step to the first team. We said that to them afterwards here they have to manage the game themselves. It can’t always be us organising things for them and passing information. They have to see things and adjust.”
Loza spearheaded the home attack following the end of his loan stint at League One Orient with Jacob Murphy paired in tandem with his twin brother after returning from his own loan spell with Swindon Town.
“Yeah, they are back with us now,” said Robson. “Jacob had a loan spell at Swindon, played some games and did well so that will do him the world of good. Hopefully we can get him working hard and knocking on the door of the first team. He has to put in the work in training and games and it would be nice to see him kick on here or with another loan opportunity elsewhere over the coming weeks.”
Loza had scored the winner in the Canaries’ previous home development 2-1 win over Everton’s youngsters and he notched again inside the opening minute when he burst through the Black Cats’ rearguard to slot underneath Joel Dixon from 16 yards. Josh Murphy then dragged a left footer wide with Sunderland in disarray and coach Kevin Ball raging at his troops from the touchline.
Fox lashed a free kick into the side netting from a yard outside the area after Jacob Murphy was crudely upended by Adam Mitchell before Josh Murphy collected his brother’s pinpoint pass to rifle past Dixon in the 15th minute. Fox tried his luck again midway through the opening period with a dipping 25-yard free kick that dropped a yard wide of Dixon’s right-hand post after Josh Murphy had been dragged to the ground with City looking dangerous with every fresh incursion.
Nash was belatedly pressed into action in the 27th minute to push away Laidler’s looping right-footed strike. Ray Grant clipped the outside of a post in the 29th minute after Reece Hall-Johnson bravely challenged Black Cats’ keeper Dixon.
Sunderland were awarded a penalty in the 41st minute when Cameron Norman clipped Carl Lawson but Nash sprung to his right to keep out Laidler’s low spot kick. Laidler spurned another chance to drag the visitors back into the game when he rolled wide of Nash’s far post in the 52nd minute after Norwich’s centre back pair were unable to contain the pacy forward.
The Sunderland striker’s personal crusade against City’s number one continued with a 20-yard free kick confidently claimed by Nash. Josh Murphy led a swift counter in the 64 minute that drew a fine low stop from Dixon who then denied Loza a second with a one-handed parry to claw out the striker’s close range header. Josh Murphy sealed the points with a trademark slaloming run and lift into the roof of the net in stoppage time.
• Norwich City Under-21s: Nash, Norman, Toffolo, Fox, McFadden, Gafaiti, Jacob Murphy, Grant, Loza (Young 90), Hall-Johnson (Morris 79), Josh Murphy. Subs (not used): Matthews, Barker, Hodd.
• Goals: Loza (1), Josh Murphy (15, 90)
• Sunderland Under-21s: Dixon, Cartwright, Mitchell, Oliver, Harrison, McNamee, Holland (Agnew 73), Laing, Laidler, Honeyman, Lawson (Gooch 72). Subs (not used): Ferguson, Burke, Smith.
• Referee: C Pollard