Southend United ran out 2-1 winners over Norwich City’s under 23’s tonight as they continue to prepare for the upcoming Vanarama National League season.
It was a dominant performance by Phil Brown’s side, who went ahead in the 26th minute through a Rhys Murphy penalty. It seemed that the sides would be heading into half-time with a level score line, as Abu Kamara equalised in the 45th minute from a well-worked counter-attack. But Jack Bridge responded immediately to put the Blues back ahead, and despite the endeavour of the home side in the second half, that was how the score line remained.
Blues’ seventh pre-season friendly started in a scrappy fashion as no real team could get a foothold on the match. But after Sam Dalby sent an effort just over the young Canaries’ goal in the sixth minute, the first half was largely dominated by Brown’s side.
Blues came even closer to opening the scoring five minutes later, as James Dunne latched onto a poor pass out of the Norwich defence and worked his way past his man to put himself through on goal. His low, right footed shot was well saved by Joe Rose, the rebound found its way into the feet of Dalby, who neatly laid it back to Murphy, who attempted to delicately lob Rose, but his effort smacked the crossbar. The rebound was hit first time on the half volley by Dunne, but it was skewed well over.
Southend continued to push for the opening goal and, on 22 minutes, nearly had it when Bridge cut inside from the left flank and worked the ball to the edge of the box, his strike went inches over the Norwich goal.
Two minutes later, Murphy again came close to breaking the deadlock as a great cross from Jason Demetriou met the head of Dalby and fell into the feet of the former Yeovil Town man. However, the knockdown proved to be too heavy, and the chance went begging.
Murphy was proving to be a very tricky customer for the young Norwich defence and that became apparent as he was on target to put Brown’s side a goal to the good on 26 minutes. The striker seized upon a loose ball in behind the Norwich defence and took it past Rose, only to be illegally brought down by the young goalkeeper in the penalty area. His spot kick was calmly dispatched into the bottom right corner.
The goal scorer was showing little let up and again hit the woodwork four minutes later. He picked the ball up on the edge of the box and attempted an audacious left footed lob over the Norwich goalkeeper, but again he was denied by the crossbar.
Not only was it Murphy posing a huge threat to David Wrights’s side, but Bridge was too. In the 33rd minute, he delivered a brilliant cross which was turned narrowly wide by Demetriou. Five minutes later, he floated an equally impressive cross onto the head of Dalby, who came very close to doubling Blues’ lead but headed just wide.
But, for all of the home side’s dominant play, they were pegged back on the stroke of half-time with Norwich’s first chance of the match. On the counter-attack, Tyrese Omotoye and Abu Kamara linked up well in Blues’ half to send the latter through and he fired a neat finish past Southend goalkeeper Steve Arnold.
In a mad minute at Roots Hall, the Blues put themselves back ahead in the match straight from kick-off, as Bridge again caused problems on the left flank and fired home with a right-footed finish off the right post. With the score at 2-1, the referee blew his whistle to bring an end to an entertaining first half.
The beginning of the second half offered little in the way of big chances, but a lot of the play was within the Norwich half. In the 58th minute, Murphy received the ball after a poor pass out of the Norwich backline. He tried to curl the ball into the far-right corner, but his effort went just over.
Murphy continued his impressive display by again going close in the 66th minute, as a slick piece of skill opened space on the edge of the box for the striker, and he sent a low-left footed effort inches wide of the Norwich net.
The newly introduced Josh Coulson made his first appearance for Brown’s side as he came off the bench in the 68th minute, and in the 73rd, he nearly has his first goal too. A succession of corners were delivered by Harry Phillips, with the third meeting the head of Coulson, but Rose did incredibly well to keep the effort out with his legs.
Brown’s side continued to push in the latter stages of the game, with half chances for Trialist B and Murphy, but the score line remained the same and a good performance was matched by a positive result for the home side.
Southend United : Arnold (Seaden 45’), White, Ogogo, Hobson (Coulson 68’), Ferguson (Phillips 54’), Demetriou (Trialist B 65’), Dunne, Murphy, Dalby, Bridge, Ralph.