Cromer FC can feel proud of their efforts against Canaries
Cromer Town 0 Norwich City U-21s 4
Last Wednesday night Cromer Town welcomed Norwich City Under 21 for the eagerly anticipated Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final. Shaun Cameron and Antoni Fawkes both returned and Simon Durrant moved into centre midfield in place of the injured Liam Landamore.
In front of a bumper crowd under the lights at Cabbell Park the Crabs took to the field against a side full of budding professionals in what was one of the biggest games in the history of the club. Very early on it became clear that the pace in the City attack would be tough for the hosts to deal with. In the sixth minute Reece Hall-Johnson latched on to a ball over the top but was unable to beat Andy Jackson. The young Canaries did grab the lead at the next attempt. Hall-Johnson picked up the ball in space and was allowed time to pick out a pass through to his strike partner Jamar Loza who then coolly slotted past Jackson.
As expected Norwich were having a majority of the possession but when Cromer did have the ball at their feet they passed it around nicely but could never really muster up a telling opportunity. The pace with which the visitors attacked with was proving difficult for the home side and Loza was again able to break free but Steve Jordan was able to make a tackle.
In the 18th minute there was a fine double save from Jackson when from a corner the ball dropped to Olu Durojaiye whose shot was well saved and the rebound went back to the midfielder who was again denied by a smart reaction save.
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On 27 minutes Cromer had their own shot at goal when Craig Terrington got the ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a straight drive that went just wide of the upright.
At the break the teams were just separated by one goal and Cromer were still very much in the tie thanks to some fine saves from Jackson.
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However early in the second half any chance of an upset was gone thanks to two early goals. The first came when Remi Matthews got rid of the ball quickly for Norman to chase down and spark a quick counter-attack. He gained yards before squaring to Josh Murphy who fired an excellent strike into the right corner.
A couple of minutes later it was 3-0. Durojaiye turned smartly, got the ball out of his feet and fired towards goal from the edge of the box. His effort was saved but the ball fell kindly for Loza to get his second.
The Crabs didn't just lie down though and still looked to cause a threat of their own whenever they could. In the 67 minute Matthew Eves crossed to Durrant who laid it to Dale Wilton but he fired over. The hosts then made a formation change in an attempt to spark an unlikely comeback.
Josh Murphy turned creator in the 75th minute when his direct running got him to the byline where he delivered a good cross for Hall-Johnson, who was wasteful from close range. The Crabs' Karl Horton then saw his curling left foot shot go just over the bar.
Jackson was once more called upon, this time to save at the feet of substitute Carlton Morris. Cromer's best chance of the match came on 83 minutes. Jackson's kick was flicked on by Dave Matthews' for Wilton to chase down and he was able to get goal side of the City defence, keeper Matthews had been drawn towards the ball leaving Wilton with the lob opportunity but he got too much on it and the ball sailed over.
In the final five minutes the Canaries had a handful of efforts to add to their tally. Morris laid it to Michael Clunan who saw his shot saved and Cameron McGeehan put the follow up wide. They did grab a fourth when Morris again found Jackson at the top of his game but in denying Morris the ball then ran kindly for Cameron King for the simplest of close range finishes.
There was still time for Jackson to shine once more. He stayed big to make it difficult for Jacob Murphy to get the ball past him and he was then brave to rush out and dive at the feet of McGeehan.
The game ended 4-0 and City booked their place in the final where they will face Wroxham at Carrow Road. Crabs keeper Jackson had a superb night, making several fantastic saves to limit Norwich to four. Although the result was a pretty comfortable one for their full-time opponents Cromer certainly did not disgrace themselves. All the Cromer players can be proud of their efforts and if they take they kind of attitude into the remaining months it will do them no harm in their chase for a third successive league title.