City denied by keeper's heroics

City's Academy side lost their opening game of the season when they went down 2-1 to Sheffield United at Colney.

City's Academy side lost their opening game of the season when they went down 2-1 to Sheffield United at Colney this morning.

A goal adrift at the interval, David Williams saw his side draw level in the second half, and they might have gone on from that had it not been for two superb saves by Steven Hernandez in the Blades goal.

The visitors started the brighter, but it was the Canaries who created the first opening when Bally Smart fired wide of the target after a well-worked free-kick routine.

With 20 minutes on the clock United took the lead when some indecisive defending from City allowed Keith QUINN the simplest of tap-ins from the edge of the six yard box.

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After a slow start Smart started to get into his stride, and after a good run down the left wing he did well to lay the ball off to Ross Kelly who saw his shot go just over the crossbar.

Inside the final 15 minutes of the first half, City almost drew level when Jamie Eames put Kris Renton clear, but Hernandez spread himself to block the shot with his legs.

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Next it was the turn of Damon Lathrope to be frustrated by Hernandez, who somehow managed to turn the City defender's shot over the bar. Deep in first half stoppage time and both Renton and Smart again went close for the Canaries.

It took City just three minutes after the break to get back on level terms and not surprisingly it was Smart who created the opening for RENTON to pick his spot from close range.

The Blades defence had no answer to Smart's pace and trickery, and after he was scythed down on the edge of the area Chris Martin should have done better with a free-kick that came back off the wall.

With 53 minutes on the clock Sheffield regained their advantage when City were caught napping from a free-kick allowing Kyle NAUGHTON to fire the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.

City went all out for the equaliser, but first it was Kelly to be denied by Hernandez who turned his shot over the bar, while moments later the Blades No.1 made the save of the match to save Renton's curling free-kick.

Even then City had opportunities to salvage something from the game, but Martin saw his shot blocked, while Kelly fired just inches wide of the target.

t Norwich City: Cable, Bexfield, Lathrope, Miller, O'Toole, Kelly, Eames (Daley 77), Martin, Renton, Byrne, Smart. Subs not used: Muddel, Arnold, Dawson, Cooper.

t Sheffield United: Hernandez, Chapman, Naughton, Wedgebury (Reid 12), Cresswell, Lowton, Askham (Walker 78), Quinn, Gorden, Boden, Tahar (Hilton 73). Sub not used: Booker.

t Norwich City Man of the Match: Bally Smart.

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