Steven Naismith returns in Norwich City's U23s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough's U23s
PUBLISHED: 14:05 10 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27 10 December 2017
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Scottish international Steven Naismith made his long-awaited comeback from injury with a 60-minute run out in Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League Two development win for Norwich City’s U23s against Middlesbrough’s U23s.
Naismith, Russell Martin and Marcel Franke featured as over-age outfield players for Matty Gill’s squad, which also included fit-again full-back Jamal Lewis, in a useful workout against the table-topping Teessiders at Colney.
Pierre Fonkeu’s 18th minute strike earned Gill’s squad the points to cap a fine weekend for the club following a 3-1 Championship win over Sheffield Wednesday at Carrow Road.
“We’re really pleased with the three points but ultimately really pleased with the performance and the individuals within that,” said Gill, speaking to the club’s official site.
“We’d come off the back of a poor run as far as results are concerned so to go back-to-back 1-0 wins is great.
“I think it was built on a solid foundation, being really organised out of possession, and that allowed us to show what we’re good at in possession and in our attacking play. Pierre was excellent.
“We had lots of help from the senior boys and I also think Jamal getting 90 minutes under his belt is excellent.
“His fitness levels are outstanding, to think he’s been out for that long, he was still charging into their box in the last five minutes.”
Naismith was back in City colours for the first time since a League Cup win against Charlton in August after being sidelined with an ankle ligament injury.
Tristan Abrahams tested Aynsley Pears in the early stages as he looked to continue his recent impressive goalscoring form, but it was strike partner Fonkeu who rifled past the Boro stopper to open the scoring.
Aston Oxborough denied Alex Pattison at the other end before keeping out Ben Liddle’s long range effort.
Pattison was unable to test the Norwich keeper shortly after the restart, with Boro looking to get back on level terms, but Naismith was foiled by Pears on the hour mark; Todd Cantwell lashing the rebound over.
That was Naismith’s final involvement but Gill’s side went close again through the lively Fonkeu. Lewis then surged onto a Cantwell pass but hammered over.
Oxborough foiled Mitchell Curry from close range in the 85th minute but Devonte Aransiba was denied a match-sealing goal when Pears superbly tipped his shot around the post in the final seconds.
• Norwich City: Oxborough, Sambu, Franke, Martin, Lewis, Phillips, Aransiba, Fonkeu, Naismith (Higgs 61), Cantwell, Abrahams. Subs (not used): Wallis, Hallett, Fleming, Da Costa.
• Goal: Fonkeu (18)