Admirable full debut could earn City defender more chances to impress
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It may have ended in cruel fashion but Andrew Omobamidele can reflect on his full Norwich City debut with plenty of pride.
The 18-year-old could take minimal blame for Preston’s equaliser at Deepdale on Good Friday, as Brad Potts’ shot deflected off his legs when trying to make a block in the fifth minute of second-half injury-time.
It was just one of numerous lessons the academy prospect learned on his big day though, after being thrust into starting action in the Championship following injuries to Ben Gibson and Christoph Zimmermann.
With the experience of skipper Grant Hanley alongside him and Tim Krul behind, to advise and cajole throughout, the Dublin-born defender put in an admirable effort during the 1-1 draw – which the leaders should have put to bed after a succession of chances before the late leveller.
Playing on the right side of central defence, there was an early scare after leaving the ball for his keeper only for it to bounce outside the area, with Emil Riis nipping in but Hanley heading the cross away.
In general the Ireland U21 international looked calm and composed in possession but City’s back-line were convinced Riis was offside as he burst through in the 15th minute, with Omobamidele not quite able to prevent the shot but being relieved to see Krul spread himself to save with his left foot.
His best moment came a minute later, reacting superbly to block a close-range shot from Scott Sinclair and the follow-up with his back. One minute later and Emi Buendia had fired the visitors in front.
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The teen’s reading of the game was impressive, making two good interceptions before the break, with an important header after Riis had cut inside right-back Bali Mumba and curled the ball into the box.
Shortly after half-time the Leixlip United youth product was out-muscled by Ched Evans and was relieved to see a low cross go straight to Krul.
Omobamidele - who signed a new contract just before Christmas until 2024 - also showed a good turn of pace to prevent a corner after a wayward pass from Mumba.
He calmly chested his way out of defence during a sustained period of pressure midway through a scrappy second half, as the hosts desperately searched for a way back into the encounter.
His other most impressive moment was in the fourth minute of added time, powering a header clear as the aerial bombardment continued with a corner.
Within a minute the young |rishman was having to haul himself off the deck, after Potts had turned Mumba in the box and fired a shot between his legs, which deflected just inside Krul's right-hand post.
It was a brutal conclusion but on a strange day when the Championship leaders had been disrupted by injury and international demands, Omobamidele and Mumba will only have received warm words from their colleagues.
Both stepped into the breach admirably to help extend an unbeaten run to 11 games and help edge the Canaries closer to the Premier League.
VERDICT: The last-gasp equaliser was an unfortunate end to a positive day but having made more clearances (nine) than any player on the pitch, that disappointment won’t last too long.
Has potentially earned more game time for a team chasing promotion, which would speed up his development drastically.
RATING: 8 out of 10