City’s Under-23s fought valiantly against a strong Leeds United side, losing 2-0 as three players were sent off.
Leeds’ Nohan Kenneh’s red card was sandwiched by two for the young Canaries, midfield duo Reece McAlear and Melvin Sitti also the recipients of pairs of yellow cards. The game was won by strikes from Max Dean and Crysencio Summerville from the penalty spot, maintaining United’s 10-point lead at the top of Premier League 2 Division Two.
Three regular first teamers turned out for David Wright’s development side on Friday afternoon, Marco Stiepermann, Bali Mumba and Josh Martin starting the game alongside Sitti, Andrew Omobamidele and McAlear, who’ve all made senior cameos.
The first real sight of goal came for Sitti in the 8th minute, some clever footwork creating room for the Frenchman to fire just over. Midway through the half the Canaries came close again, a well-weighted Martin pass allowing Bali Mumba to cross, his centre deflected to force a good save from Elia Caprile.
In the 33rd minute, Leeds found a chance they hadn’t looked like creating. Some excellent slaloming from Summerville got him into the City box, Rob Nizet clumsily bundling the United man over as he looked to cut it back. The referee duly awarded a penalty but Bobby Kamwa placed it wide of Joe Rose’s left post, keeping the scores level and squandering a golden opportunity to take control of the match.
Encouraged, Leeds then grew into the game and threatened on a few occasions before the break, a deep free kick only just ahead of Charlie Cresswell, who would’ve had a tap in. The same player then saw a well-placed volley saved by Rose in the 42nd minute. The Whites had the ball in the net in stoppage time, but Dean was clearly offside as he finished off a nice move.
Early in the second half Matthew Dennis missed the young Canaries’ best opportunity yet, guiding Martin’s well placed free-kick just wide with his weaker left foot.
Five minutes later the deadlock was broken, smart combination play from Summerville and Cody Drameh ending with a cut back for Dean, who smartly finished from seven yards to give Leeds the advantage.
A trademark step inside and shot from Marco Stiepermann then threatened to draw Norwich level, before a red card put the game seemingly further beyond the Canaries’ reach. McAlear was booked for a rash tackle to add to a similar yellow card in the first half.
Dennis then came even closer to finding the net, Nizet’s cross finding the former Arsenal man whose finish hit the post.
The ten men of Norwich were then matched by that of Leeds, Kenneh committing his second bookable offence and allowing the home side back into the game.
Martin was the next City player to come within inches of scoring, Nizet bursting down the wing before finding the 19-year-old, whose shot curled just wide of the far post.
In the 74th minute, the third red card came out, Sitti, who had been impressive up to that point, receiving his second yellow in a few minutes, the first for kicking the ball away and the second for a routine foul in a pair of cautions that felt very harsh.
With the nine men pushing forward to try and force an equaliser, Leeds began to look more dangerous going forward, and won the chance to seal the three points in the 96th minute. Stuart McKinstry was fouled by Louis Lomas as he darted into the box, Summerville sending Rose the wrong way with virtually the final kick of an almost unbelievable game.