FA Youth Cup semi-final, first leg: Nottingham Forest U18s 0, Norwich City U18s 1
PUBLISHED: 22:31 10 April 2013 | UPDATED: 18:35 11 April 2013
Norwich City’s U18s chief Neil Adams insists the job is far from over after Wednesday night’s battling 1-0 FA Youth Cup semi-final, first leg win at Nottingham Forest.
Reece Hall-Johnson bundled home Cameron Norman’s deep cross in the 88th minute at the City Ground to give the young Canaries a precious advantage ahead of next week’s Carrow Road return. Adams is now appealing for a huge turnout from Norwich’s fan base to help seal a place in the final of prestigious national competition.
“The Norwich fans are superb and hopefully there will be a great crowd,” he said. “There was a good few here and I thank every one of them. We need to push it and promote it and it would be good to see 10,000 there. The lads deserve that. It will be a good battle of wills between myself and Gary Brazil and Steve Chettle and we will certainly be looking forward to it. I think people will be aware of it. We have got a lead and I am sure Forest will come and be a bit adventurous because they know they have to score now, but we have pace in the team so we are good on the counter-attack. I wish it was away goals that counted but they mean nothing.”
Adams admitted there was a touch of fortune about Hall-Johnson’s winner which appeared to brush the midfielder’s arm, but the Canaries were also denied a clear goalscoring chance late on when the official halted play with Josh Murphy leading the break out.
“It was handball. He did get his head on it but it also hit him on the arm. Whether it was actually going in I am not so sure but we have had a bit of good fortune,” he said. “But it does even itself out because we were through at the end when he pulled it back and I fancied us to score there. It is swings and roundabouts. I wasn’t too happy at the time but when I spoke to him afterwards he said he had made a mistake. I said fair play to him, that is good enough for me but if he had let the play go one or two more seconds we might have scored again.”
Adams felt his side had failed to scale the heights of their quarter-final romp at Everton.
“I wasn’t really pleased with the performance if I am honest,” he said. “I think we are a better team than that. Certainly at Everton in the quarter-final we had far more of a cutting edge about us. Maybe the occasion got to us a little bit. Obviously we won the game and got the result but as pleased as I am with that I still think we can do better. I would have taken a goalless draw the way the game was going. I didn’t think we looked like scoring. We competed well, we restricted Forest to very little but we are capable of doing so much more. The players will be told and they know. Whether it was a little bit of nerves I don’t know but the pitch was also a little bit springy and bobbly and that didn’t help us. You probably saw us getting near to what we are capable of in the last 20 minutes.”
Forest carried plenty of attacking menace with the direct running of Morgan Ferrier supplemented by the trickery of Wilfried Gnahore. Ferrier’s rasping right footer slammed against William Britt’s bar in the best chance of the opening period after the muscular Forest forward had hassled Cameron McGeehan into conceding a free kick just inside the Norwich half.
City’s holding midfielders McGeehan and Hall-Johnson were getting through a prodigious amount of work to cut the supply lines to Ferrier, but McGeehan triggered a sharp riposte then eventually saw Toffees’ hat-trick hero Carlton Morris roll a teasing ball across the face of Forest’s six-yard box that caused momentary panic.
Hall-Johnson broke the cagey impasse approaching the final quarter with a thrilling burst past three Forest opponents but the central midfielder’s finish failed to match the potency of his run. McGeehan then clubbed a 25 yard free kick over before his miscued header from Jacob Murphy’s free kick slipped wide. Rod Young’s electric cameo coaxed a rash challenge from Michael Hollingsworth but Josh Murphy’s 20-yard free kick drifted into the empty terracing with City finishing much the stronger. The young Canaries were rewarded for their late attacking ambition when Norman’s overlapping run and deep cross was bundled home on the goal line from Hall-Johnson.
• Nottingham Forest: Smith, Hollingsworth, Kamaneno, Blake, Gorman, Fenton, Gnahore (Palmer-Samuels 75), Grant (Thomas 57), Otim, Ferrier, Wallace. Subs (not used): Ackroyd, Durrant, Sebastiao.
• Bookings: Fenton (foul on Josh Murphy, 74); Hollingsworth (foul on Young, 84); Blake (foul on Josh Murphy, 90).
• Norwich City: Britt, Norman, Wyatt (Barker 90), McGeehan, McFadden, Toffolo, Jacob Murphy, Hall-Johnson, Morris, King (Young 55), Josh Murphy. Subs (not used): Lokko, Reading, Barker, Randall.
• Bookings: Norman (foul on Otim, 53); Wyatt (foul on Otim, 69).
• Goal: Hall-Johnson (88)
• Added on time: 1 minute / 3 minutes
• Referee: Geoff Eltringham
• Attendance: 2,078