U18 REPORT: Norwich City 2-2 Southampton

By SFC Media Sat 24 Oct U 18

Southampton Under-18s played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with their Norwich counterparts at the Canaries’ Colney training ground.

Captain Olufela Olomola followed up his brace in last weekend’s rout of Arsenal by giving his side the lead just after the half-hour.

But Bilal Kamal levelled matters just before the break, with George Couzens striking soon after the restart to turn the game on its head.

Saints dominated from there in, with Oskar Cvjetičanin forcing home a deserved leveller with 68 minutes on the clock.

Olomola had several opportunities to extend his account, but could not find the game’s fifth goal as Saints settled for a point when their performance perhaps deserved all three.

Craig Fleming’s team could well have taken the lead with just 57 seconds on the clock, as captain Olomola took the ball to feet before shooting inches wide on the turn.

Olomola was in the thick of the action during the opening stages, seeing a 14th-minute penalty appeal waved away before getting up to centre only for none of his teammates to take advantage.

Norwich midfielder Tom Walters then saw a shot deflect over before Saints goalkeeper Harry Lewis produced two important saves to preserve parity, holding George Couzens’ effort before blocking from Kamal in a one-on-one position moments later.

Lewis’s heroics were duly rewarded soon afterwards as Saints took a 33rd-minute lead, with Thomas O’Connor’s deflected centre from the left finding skipper Olomola, who powered the ball home via the crossbar.

Callum Slattery then fired a free kick just off target before the Canaries levelled matters, with playmaker Kamal sweeping the ball in from the edge of the box three minutes before the break.

Olomola could have restored the lead less than 60 seconds later as he collected another cross from the left, but this time his low shot was blocked on the Canaries’ goalline by Callum Ellesley to round off the half.

Saints almost had a dream start to the second period when Ben Cull’s low corner found Olomola, whose centre picked out Carel Kayembe but the winger could not make proper contact a few yards out.

The hosts took advantage of the let-off almost immediately, with forward Couzens ending a rapid counter by firing across Lewis and in off the far post just three minutes after the restart.

The goal seemed to spur Saints on, with Johnson soon seeing an effort gathered by Norwich goalkeeper Aston Oxborough.

There was controversy just before the hour mark as O’Connor’s superb pass set free Olomola, but the Saints captain was scythed down just as he shot. The referee declined to award a penalty, and the ball bobbled wide of the post.

Johnson fired a shot over as Southampton ramped up the pressure, before the equaliser duly arrive on 68 minutes as Slattery’s corner was cleared against defender Cvjetičanin, with the ball squirming past Oxborough at the near post.

Saints immediately went on the hunt for a third goal, with Johnson being denied from close range before Olomola struck the ball against the outside of the post.

Norwich responded and mounted a push of their own in the final quarter-hour, with captain Todd Cantwell curling off target before Olomola went close once more as his low effort flew just wide after an excellent solo run.

There was a late heart-in-mouth moment for Saints when a moment of miscommunication between Lewis and Cvjetičanin allowed Couzens in on goal, but the Saints goalkeeper rescued his side by deflecting the forward’s shot wide with his legs.

That let-off might have left some Saints players feeling thankful for the point, but there was an enduring disappointment not to be leaving Norfolk with victory.

Norwich City Under-18s (4-2-3-1): Aston Oxborough; Toby Syme, Owen Wallis, Callum Ellesley, Bradley Catton (Kofi Boateng 82); Tom Walters, Emersson Sambu; Anthony Spyrou (Sinatra Antwi 19), Bilal Kamal (Devonte Aransibia 75), Todd Cantwell (c); George Couzens.

Unused substitutes: Fergal Hale-Brown (GK), Timi Odusina.

Goals: Kamal (42), Couzens (48)

Booking: Walters (45)

Southampton Under-18s (4-2-3-1): Harry Lewis; Richard Bakery, Ben Rowthorn, Oskar Cvjetičanin, Ben Cull; Thomas O’Connor, Callum Slattery; Carel Kayembe (Connor Langan 90+2), Joe Lea (Archie Thomas 46), Tyreke Johnson; Olufela Olomola (c).

Unused substitutes: Jake Hallett (GK), Rugare Musendo, Harley Willard.

Goals: Olomola (33), Cvjetičanin (68)

Booking: Bakary (24)

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