Dominant Canaries make Cup progress
Michael Bailey Norwich City U18 1, Wigan Athletic U18 0: Academy boss Ricky Martin hailed a “massive” result for Norwich City's youngsters after they put on a dominant display to beat Wigan Athletic in the FA Youth Cup third round last night.
Norwich City U18 1, Wigan Athletic U18 0
Academy boss Ricky Martin hailed last night's FA Youth Cup third round victory over Wigan Athletic as a “massive” result for Norwich City's youngsters after they put on a dominant display.
The Canaries may have only won thanks to a solitary Josh Dawkin header in the second-half, but they had possession of the ball for almost the entire 90 minutes at Carrow Road - and created enough chances to rack up a more convincing scoreline.
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But for Martin victory was the only thing that mattered and Norwich can now look forward to a fourth round tie after Christmas.
“It's a massive result for the academy, and it's a massive result for myself and the young team that I'm working with at the moment,” said Martin. “I said to the lads in the dressing room that they can enjoy the fact that they are in the FA Youth Cup after Christmas, and that's something we haven't done for a little while now.
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“We haven't won many games in the last few years in the cup but tonight was a knockout game, a cup competition and it's about winning, and at the end of the day we've won 1-0.
“At times, I felt we played the ball round very, very well. I thought we looked composed on the ball and we had some fantastic passing moves. That would be the highlight for me.
“The disappointment is that we didn't score enough goals. We had enough opportunities and got the ball in the final third enough times, and really we've made it a little bit more tense for ourselves in that last five minutes than we ought to have.”
The Canaries dominated possession virtually from kick-off in front of 405 hardy souls, although it was Wigan who had the first sight of goal, left-back David Mayer drilling narrowly past Declan Rudd's far post.
City's flowing football finally worked an opening after 26 minutes, Korey Smith's delightful touch sending Dawkin into the box but his first-time shot flew inches wide with Wigan goalkeeper Neil Postlethwaite well beaten.
Then it was Smith's turn as he cleared the bar from outside the area, after Johnull Omor-egie's low cross was only partially cleared. Centre-back pairing Dario Dumic and David Stephens looked commanding at the back, although a mix up between the latter and Rudd almost saw the ball ricochet in off Wigan striker Callum McManaman.
At the other end, Kenny Reeves put a header over from Sam Habergham's excellent centre, while another good move saw Tom Adeyemi through on goal but with only the keeper to beat, his dink fell just wide.
The second-half continued in similar vein, Danny Kelly working his way into the box before Postlethwaite deflected his chip away from danger. But with City building up a head of steam, the goal their domination deserved finally came on 55 minutes. Omoregie's curling right-wing cross eluded striker Kenny Reeves and a host of Wigan defenders, before Dawkin arrived late at the back post to confidently head City in front.
With Glenn Roeder and Lee Clark watching from the stands, Norwich continued to squander their chances, Dawkin poking wide when it looked easier to score and Adeyemi played a beautiful one-two with Reeves, only to see the Wigan keeper do well to block from close range.
Reeves also looked set to add a second before seemingly tackling himself as Postlethwaite advanced, and as the game wore on Norwich became more jittery with Adeyemi guilty of giving away two free-kicks on the edge of the penalty area with only minutes remaining.
But as Wigan, bossed by former Canary Dave Watson, looked to force extra-time, referee Mike Blackledge waived away appeals for handball from Jonathan Breeze's initial effort, before Jorden Mustoe sent his final effort agonisingly wide.
Anything other than victory would have been harsh on the Canaries and although Kelly added a few extra seconds to injury-time by ploughing into one of the referee's assistants, it will be Norwich who can look forward to the fourth round.
t Norwich U18 (4-4-2): Rudd, Francomb, Habergham, Adeyemi, Dumic, Stephens, Omoregie (Brindley 84), Smith, Reeves (Davey 73), Kelly, Dawkin. Subs not used: Steer, Clarke, Ball.
Bookings: Adeyemi 86, Davey 90.
Goal: Dawkin 55.
t Wigan U18 (4-5-1): Postlethwaite, Mustoe, Mayer (Crane 86), Buxton, Chiocchi, Breeze, Prince, Kirkbride, Redmond, McManaman, Boothman (Amos 73). Subs not used: Gracey, Barrie, Lambert.
Bookings: Mayer 45.
t Referee: M Blackledge (Huntingdon)
t Attendance: 405