Norwich City Reserves 3, Chelsea Reserves 3
PUBLISHED: 22:26 24 January 2012 | UPDATED: 09:39 25 January 2012
Archant copyright 2012
Norwich City's fit-again striker James Vaughan marked his competitive comeback with a poacher's goal in tonight's 3-3 Premier League Reserve draw against Chelsea's second string at Carrow Road.
Vaughan’s diving close range header from Elliott Bennett’s cross early in the second period drew City level in the former Evertonian’s first outing since knee ligament surgery.
The 23-year-old successfully came through 61 minutes before being withdrawn by Canaries’ boss Paul Lambert – the Scot directing operations in the home dugout for the majority of the game. Vaughan looked lively in his first appearance for four months since being helped off in the closing stages of the Premier League win over Sunderland in late September.
Centre-back Elliott Ward also played just over an hour after missing all of the club’s Premier League campaign to date with a knee problem picked up on City’s pre-season tour of Germany. The big defender was caught out by Lucas Piazon for Chelsea’s opener but was largely untroubled for the duration of his long-awaited comeback.
Fellow defender Marc Tierney also featured as well in a strong reserve line up as the senior players attempted to push their claims for involvement in Saturday’s FA Cup visit to West Brom.
City looked in total command when Richard Brindley and Vaughan’s replacement, Jamar Loza put them 3-1 up, but a brace from Chelsea’s teenage hitman Islam Feruz earned the Blues a share of the spoils in front of 3,138 at Carrow Road.
Vaughan appeared keen to make up for lost time in the opening exchanges with one early burst unsettling George Saville before snatching at Bennett’s cut back down the right when shaping to test James Russell with a half-volley. Strike partner Aaron Wilbraham headed over under pressure from Tierney’s probing cross but Piazon burst goalside of Ward after exchanging passes with Marko Mitrovic to fire past Jed Steer on 24 minutes.
Vaughan harried Russell into a mistake on the edge of his own area, only for Saville to spare the keeper’s blushes as Lambert took his seat in the home dug out. Wilbraham was hacked down by Chelsea’s skipper and England youth international Nathaniel Chalobah to earn the game’s first yellow card on 39 minutes.
The classy Jacob Mellis advanced deep into Norwich’s half, but Steer was well-placed to smother his low strike in the closing stages of the opening period. Vaughan dragged Norwich back on level terms when he dived full length to power home Bennett’s cross from eight yards minutes after the restart. Wilbraham veered past Chalobah but curled wide before full back Richard Brindley’s venomous angled shot flew past two Chelsea players to nudge Norwich in front.
Vaughan and Ward departed the scene just past the hour mark to warm applause from the home fans. Wilbraham’s glancing flick almost made it three from Simon Lappin’s free kick but Loza rifled the hosts further ahead on 67 minutes with a cool slot after his initial thunderbolt had cannoned back off the foot of Russell’s far post.
Lambert withdrew Tierney for the final quarter to blood Harry Toffolo, but it was Chelsea’s second half arrival Feruz who sparked the visitors’ with a late brace. The diminutive front man scrambled home from close range then unleashed a fine rasping shot that clipped Steer’s far post. Norwich responded strongly in the closing stages but Russell reacted sharply to paw Toffolo’s cross behind before denying Loza at his near post. Bennett was inches from winning the game in stoppage time when his glancing header clipped the post and Wilbraham’s follow up was deflected behind.
• Norwich: Steer, Brindley, Ward (Barker 61), McKenzie, Tierney (Toffolo 71), Bennett, Ball, Lappin, Dawkin, Vaughan (Loza 61), Wilbraham. Subs (not used): Matthews, Clunan.
• Booking: Lappin
• Goals: Vaughan (48), Brindley (56), Loza (67)
• Chelsea: Russell, Kane, Chalobah, Saville, Deen-Conteh, Clifford, Lalkovic, Mellis (Ince 86), Mitrovic (Feruz 55), Clifford (Ake 60), Piazon. Subs (not used): Beeney, Baker.
• Bookings: Chalobah, Saville
• Goals: Piazon (24), Feruz (72, 79)
• Referee: A Crysell
• Attendance: 3,138