Pre-season report: Cambridge United 0 Norwich City 2 – Timm Klose and Alex Pritchard go off injured in 120-minute match
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League Two side Cambridge United provided Norwich City with a thorough test in a 120-minute friendly split into two matches, but there were injury worries over Timm Klose and Alex Pritchard for the Canaries.
Goals from Josh Murphy and Ben Godfrey in the opening quarter were enough to secure the victory for City but the match was used by head coach Daniel Farke to experiment with formations and work on his style – even bringing his tactics board onto the pitch during one break.
Norwich stuck to senior options and surprisingly brought in few youngsters, but handing Angus Gunn his first appearance in a Canaries shirt since joining on loan from Manchester City.
Wes Hoolahan, Marley Watkins and Harrison Reed were among the notable absences, as well as left-back Harry Toffolo and goalkeeper Michael McGovern, with Jacob Murphy having only just started his pre-season after his England Under-21 exertions.
There was a place for new signing Marcel Franke though, following the centre-back signing from Greuther Furth on Friday, making his debut as a replacement for Klose.
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That came after Uche Ikpeazu clattered the defender in the closing stages of the first 60-minue match and Pritchard was later taken off on a stretcher after appearing to hurt his ankle in a challenge.
The U’s, who finished 11th in League Two last season, were without head coach Shaun Derry as he recovered from a minor operation but did have Luke Berry despite the striker coming close to signing for Hibs recently having scored 22 goals in all competitions last season.
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Berry went close with an early free-kick in the seventh minute, beating the wall but his effort just wide of the right-hand post, and threaded through George Maris three minutes later with the winger firing under Angus Gunn to spark celebrations which were cut short by an offside flag.
With Farke roaring at some of his players for their defensive shape, and Josh Murphy in particular for blasting a long ball out of defence, the visitors sprung into life.
Steven Naismith burst forward and was fouled but James Husband kept the ball alive and Murphy hit a snap shot from 25 yards which bounced past keeper Dimitar Mitov for 1-0.
The goal rocked the hosts and it was 2-0 within two minutes when Ben Godfrey flicked in a Mario Vrancic free-kick from the left from close range to settle Farke’s nerves, as his team started passing the ball nicely in the first quarter of the afternoon.
It was a quieter second 30 minutes though, as the Canaries sprayed the ball about to keep possession – literally in the 46th minute when the sprinklers came on unexpectedly.
Murphy went close in the 38th minute, turning two markers after being played in by Godfrey, but fluffing his lines when caught between deciding whether to shoot or cross.
The U’s went close in the 54th minute when Greg Taylor headed a couple of yards wide from a George Maris corner but the half ended on a low note, big striker Ikpeazu clattering Klose on the 54th minute. The Swiss international immediately signalled he was coming off and limped off as Franke made a sooner-than-expected debut.
Five further changes were made for the start of the second 60-minute match, as City emerged in their new black away kit and Cambridge changed their entire outfield team.
Godfrey mas moved into defence, Remi Matthews replaced Gunn in goal, Jamal Lewis was on for James Husband at left wing-back and Pritchard, James Maddison, Alex Tettey and Nelson Oliveira were also introduced.
Murphy, shifted to right wing-back, set up Pritchard early on only for the playmaker to blast well over under pressure and the winger had a crack himself soon after but couldn’t bend his low shot from 20 yards enough to find the bottom-left corner.
The hosts almost pulled a goal back in the 89th minute when Adam McGurk got in behind Murphy and teed up Jabo Ibehre to shoot from 10 yards, only for Matthews to sprawl to his left and make a fine save.
Yanic Wildschut was brought back on as the final quarter began and soon crossed from the right and found Oliveira, who lashed a shot from inside the area that Mark Roberts charged down superbly.
An unnamed trialist lashed a powerful shot against the City crossbar in the 98th minute, before a worrying injury problem that saw Pritchard taken off on a stretcher. That came after two good blocks in the area by Roberts, the second leaving Pritchard writhing in pain on the floor appearing to be holding his ankle.
Oliveira headed over at the near post from a Maddison corner and the U’s had another goal chalked off for offside in the closing stages, Roberts flicking in after Josh Coulson had headed down a corner, only to be left disappointed.
Despite offering a fine fitness test ahead of next week’s pre-season camp in Germany, attentions will now turn to the seriousness of those injuries for Klose and Pritchard.
Cambridge first game (4-2-3-1): Mitov; Halliday, Legge, Darling, Taylor; Lewis, Trialist (Squire 46); Elito, Berry, Maris; Ikpeazu.
Norwich first game (3-4-3): Gunn; Martin, Zimmermann, Klose (Franke 58); Wildschut, Vrancic, Godfrey, Husband; Naismith, Jerome, Josh Murphy.
Cambridge second game (4-3-3): Mitov; Davies, Roberts, Coulson, Dunk; Mingoia, Osadebe, Deegan; Trialist, McGurk, Ibehre (Foy 101). Unused subs: Knowles, Norville-Williams.
Norwich second game (3-5-2): Matthews; Franke, Zimmerman, Godfrey; Murphy (Wildschut 91), Naismith (Vrancic 91), Tettey, Maddison, Lewis; Pritchard (Husband 103), Oliveira.
Norwich goals: Murphy 16, Godfrey 18
Referee: Alan Young