Stephenson pleased by winning start

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:45 10 September 2010

Norwich City's first step into their own vision of reserve team football has been hailed as a success. The Canaries, having pulled out of the Pontins Holiday Combination League, are now planning their own programme of games which they hope will provide sterner tests than some of the youthful sides they have faced in the past.

Norwich City's first step into their own vision of reserve team football has been hailed as a success.

The Canaries, having pulled out of the Pontins Holiday Combination League, are now planning their own programme of games which they hope will provide sterner tests than some of the youthful sides they have faced in the past.

Game one was on Monday evening when City's second string beat Kirkley & Pakefield 2-1 at Carrow Road - and reserve team boss Paul Stephenson said the Ridgeons League Premier Division outfit proved to be a good test.

“All credit to Kirkley,” said Stephenson. “They tried to play the game in the right way and they got it down and played some good stuff at times.

“That's what these lads need, the challenge of playing against senior players and men. If they are going to progress in the first team and the Championship level then they are going to be playing against men, but at a higher level and much fitter, so we have got to strengthen them up and be able to deal with a physical challenge.”

The visitors led at half-time before goals by Kris Renton and Josh Dawkin sealed a City win in front of a crowd of 441.

“It was a good response in the second half,” Stephenson. “We didn't play quite as well in the first half. I think one or two of the lads were a bit anxious and nervous on the ball, not showing their true form. We made a few changes at the start of the second half and it was a lot better.

“There's still more to come; it's early in the season but there were certainly more positives to be taken from that second half. We shifted the ball better and just need to learn to keep the ball and be a bit more patient at times but generally I am pleased that we came back from 1-0 down.”

Goalkeeper Stuart Nelson made his first appearance at Carrow Road in a City shirt after joining in the summer.

“I really praised Stuart in there afterwards,” Stephenson said. “He kept his concentration levels really well. He only had one bit where he threw the ball out early when I would have liked him to keep it and he agreed with that, but he made two or three really good stops late on. He is a good talker, good kicker and he has improved since he came to the club and I'm sure there's more to come.”

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