King's Lynn Town 1 Norwich City 2: Canaries rely on young guns for friendly victory
Norwich City came through their first blow-out of the summer on a sweltering evening in west Norfolk.
There may be a few weary limbs this morning, but City escaped unscathed - that’s no sleight on the Linnets, who were the perfect hosts, just a reminder that pre-season matches often don’t go to plan.
Daniel Farke saw Timm Klose and Alex Pritchard suffer injuries at Cambridge last summer, and who knows what effect that had on City’s season?
Cobwebs were duly brushed aside, though, with City’s build-up continuing next week at Lincoln and then a behind-closed-doors game against Crawley before a few days and tougher opponents on camp in Germany.
The City pre-season itinerary always includes a local game - and where better than Lynn, the county’s second biggest club with ambitions to go one better and win promotion from the Southern Central League this season.
Farke started with a string of first-teamers, including new signing Teemu Pukki, although there was no Ben Marshall or Emi Buendia as well as Nelson Oliveira, Grant Hanley, Jamal Lewis and Alex Tettey, although it as the youngsters who did the damage.
The Linnets included new faces of their own, in Harry Limb, Rory McAuley, Kalern Thomas, Jordan Richards - on his 21st birthday - Kieran Higgs - who was with City’s Under 23s last season – Nathan Stewart, who was with Norwich United last season, and Aaron Jones.
City started with a 3-4-3 formation ahead of keeper Remi Matthews, auditioning for regular Championship football in the new season. The majority of the possession was, not surprisingly, with the Canaries, but Lynn looked comfortable – lung-busting breakaways were not quite the order of the day. Dictating operations for Lynn was Canaries old boy Ryan Jarvis, although he could do nothing to prevent a nippy City attack, with Pukki nutmegging a clearly annoyed Ryan Fryatt.
Passlack went for the ambitious with a right foot volley that ended up going out for a throw, but City fans won’t mind someone prepared to have a pot-shot.
With half an hour gone it was hard to make any judgment calls, but Pukki clearly has something about him – there was a desire to have the ball at his feet just behind the front line and pick a hole.
The first real chance didn’t arrive until the 37th minute when McAuley brought the ball out of defence, almost lost it, then did lose it, on halfway, and within seconds Hernandez had possession in the area and slid a shot to Alex Street’s left only for the Linnets keeper to stick out a telescopic arm to turn it away from goal.
Hernandez slid one across goal, but Pukki was a stride behind the move, but minutes later he was perfectly placed to turn a short pass to Dennis Srbeny, who fired just wide of the far post.
That there were no goals at half-time was down to wastefulness on City’s part, and some decent work by the Linnets.
Matt Gill took charge for the second half ready for the arrival of his Under-23s and four minutes City were behind, Ryan Hawkins teeing up Toby Hilliard to volley home from close range.
City responded well and were camped around the Lynn area for long spells, but Srbeny was guilty of a poor miss on 63 minutes when he had time in the area, picked his spot, curled the ball past Street – but saw it hit the woodwork.
The expected changes – all nine of them – came on 65 minutes – did that end the professional interest of one spectator, Rotherham United’s Norwich City-supporting manager Paul Warne, rumoured to keen on defender Sean Raggett?
That mattered little to Devonte Aransibia, who kept his head where other more senior pros hadn’t and slid the ball under Street for the equaliser on 71 minutes. Two minutes later Wildschut unselfishly passed across of goal for Adam Idah to lash home from close range.
Game over, although bigger challenges and bigger prizes lay ahead for both teams.
King’s Lynn Town (starting XI): Street, Jones, Fryatt, McAuley, Thomas, Jarvis, Richards, Higgs, Stewart, Gash, Limb.
City: Matthews (Oxborough 65), Passlack (Aarons 45), Zimmermann (Richards 65), Klose (Jones 65), Raggett (Odusina 65), Stiepermann (Phillips 65), Trybull (Payne 65), Leitner (Spyrou 65, Kamal 88)), Hernandez (Aransibia 65), Srbeny (Idah 65), Pukki (Wildschut 45). Unused: Power.