Norwich new boy Ayala is a hit

PUBLISHED: 22:34 16 August 2011 | UPDATED: 10:08 17 August 2011

Norwich's latest signing Daniel Ayala made his debut in Tuesday's 0-0 Premier League Reserve opener against Blackburn. Photo: Bill Smith

Norwich's latest signing Daniel Ayala made his debut in Tuesday's 0-0 Premier League Reserve opener against Blackburn. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

Norwich City Res 0, Blackburn Rovers Res 0: Norwich City's new signing Dani Ayala turned in an assured display on his debut in the goalless Premier League Reserves' opener against Blackburn's second string at Carrow Road.

The Spanish centre-back played just under 70 minutes following official confirmation earlier in the day that the ex-Seville youngster had signed a four year deal to complete his Liverpool move.

Ayala partnered Leon Barnett in a strong Canaries line-up which also featured Anthony Pilkington and some of the club’s senior stars omitted from the weekend Premier League curtain raiser against Wigan.

City edged out Championship club Hull to make Ayala their eighth signing of the current transfer window and assistant boss Ian Culverhouse was delighted with the 20-year-old’s first outing.

“Dani and Anthony both got around 65 minutes, which was planned and they looked comfortable,” he said. “That was pretty much the first time Dani had been in around it. He trained on Monday and I thought he looked a very accomplished player on the ball.

“He’s a good talker, a good organiser and he speaks perfectly good English so there won’t be any problems with translation.

“It was all about minutes and that is why we put quite a strong side out. I think there was a bit of quality missing on the ball but we wanted the older professionals to get 90 minutes and they got it, so it was good on the fitness side.

“Everything is new to us - even going in this reserve league that is something new for the younger boys. We came up against a very good Blackburn side.

“They were very young, but very, very good. It has worked well. The idea with going into this league is to give the youngsters a taste of it, plus it gives us a chance to look at the younger players in these other clubs. It works both ways.”

Korey Smith captained a City second string packed with senior first team players. Adam Drury and Simon Lappin were in harness down the left flank with Pilkington operating on the opposite wing against his boyhood club after a late second half cameo at the DW stadium. Chris Martin and Aaron Wilbraham were paired in attack against a youthful Rovers’ outfit featuring Dereham-bred teenager Jackson Ramm at right-back and the nucleus of the squad who won their respective reserve league last season.

Norwich bossed possession for long spells, with Barnett’s header clipping the top of Matthew Urwin’s bar in the first period before the Rovers’ keeper acrobatically tipped away another close range effort from the same defender after the break.

The tall, elegant Ayala looked keen to bring the ball out of defence at every opportunity in the early exchanges, but was thankful for Barnett’s timely interception after Rovers’ skipper Nick Blackman had slipped his attempted sliding tackle.

Wilbraham forced the first save from Urwin when Smith’s initial strike ricocheted into his path. City right-back Richard Brindley advanced but his strike clipped Myles Anderson – Barnett’s point blank header from the resulting corner brushing the top of the bar.

Wilbraham’s glancing header drifted just wide from Simon Lappin’s cross before Tom Adeyemi earned a lecture from the official in the final seconds of the half for a full-blooded tackle on Adam Henley.

Sean Cooke dipped inside Ayala on the restart but drilled at Declan Rudd from 25 yards then Zak Aley’s whipped free kick flew past a ruck of bodies after Ayala had hauled down Ramm. Wilbraham pounced on Hugo Fernandez Molina’s weak back pass, but Urwin reacted sharply to smother his attempted lob. Chris Martin then burst onto Wilbraham’s through ball, but Lappin lashed his cutback over from 16 yards before Urwin produced the save of the night to deny Barnett after the defender had powerfully connected with Adam Drury’s driven cross.

• Norwich: Rudd, Brindley (Dawkin, 76), Barnett, Ayala (McKenzie, 67), Drury, Smith, Adeyemi, Pilkington (Ball, 67), Lappin, Martin, Wilbraham. Subs (not used): Matthews, Kelly.

• Blackburn: Urwin, Ramm, Henley, Molina, O’Connor, Anderson, Evans (Cooke, 16), O’Sullivan (Maclaren, 82), Blackman, Cotton, Aley. Subs (not used): Dillo, Hanley, Haley.

• Referee: J Busby

• Attendance: 1,029

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