Although the first team failed to retain their Premier League status, Toffolo and the rest of the boys remained in the top division due to the club’s Category One academy recognition. After successful seasons in the past few years, the question was whether the under 21s could continue in the same way without coach Neil Adams, following his promotion to first team manager.
The U21s kicked their season off at Leigh Sports Village, away to Manchester United at 7pm.
Norwich began the game playing a relatively high line in an attempt to pressurise United and stop the superior team from having too much space. McGeehan, who has returned from his loan spell at Luton, operated in front of the back four.
United piled on the pressure and eventually they were rewarded. A driven cross into the box was met by Perreira, who drew a reaction save from Killip, but the ball ran straight into the path of Lawrence who tapped home. Unlucky for Killip, who initially made an impressive save with his feet but United’s number nine was in the right place at the right time.
No improvement came from the away side and a large proportion of the game was spent in Norwich’s half. They struck gold again when McNair headed a dangerous cross goalwards. Killip would have been disappointed and frustrated with his defence after seeing a second ball delivered into the box not be dealt with.
Jacob Murphy failed to get into the game and was largely anonymous wide on the right hand side. Few passes were strung together that had any attacking impetus and so Norwich were continuously bombarded by United attacks. For the whole duration of the game they managed just one attempt at goal, and that was directly at goalkeeper Perreira.
In the second half Murphy moved up front alongside Jake Simpson, but like Redmond at Wolves, the Canaries saw no benefit.
United’s dominance continued, and a third came halfway through the second half; Janko had been causing problems down the right side to the point where Norwich had retreated into their box, forgetting that high line they had implemented in the first half. After some patient build up play from the home side, an opening appeared for number 11 Joshua Harrop, and he took it with both hands – or more appropriately, his left foot. It curled agonisingly past Killip and that rounded off the night’s goals.
An uninspiring start to the U21s season, with little positive to write about. The combination of sideways passing and no attacking made for a very dull game – one which Dale Brooks and his team can only improve on.
Ben Killip – 6
Michee Efete – 5
Harry Toffolo – 5
Adel Gafaiti – 5
Reiss Awuah – 5
Kyle McFadden – 6
Cameron McGeehan – 5
Reece Hall-Johnson – 5
Jacob Murphy – 4
Jake Simpson – 4
Sam Kelly – 5