Clarke clinches derby victory
Ipswich Town Under-18 1 Norwich City Under-18 0THE future of Ipswich Town was given the big stage to impress and did not disappoint.Watched by a bumper crowd of nearly 3,500, including one of the Blues most famous old boys, Kieron Dyer, the young starlets beat the old enemy in an entertaining encounter.
By Derek Davis
Ipswich Town Under-18 1 Norwich City Under-18 0
THE future of Ipswich Town was given the big stage to impress and did not disappoint.
Watched by a bumper crowd of nearly 3,500, including one of the Blues most famous old boys, Kieron Dyer, the young starlets beat the old enemy in an entertaining encounter.
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Although Billy Clarke's second-minute strike was the only goal between the East Anglian rivals, the win was fairly comfortable, with City only scaring the partisan crowd just the once.
The idea of playing the Under-18s league game at Portman Road was to raise funds for the Academy, give the young players a taste of performing in front of a crowd with a decent atmosphere and to give Town fans a chance to see the rising stars.
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Job done, with every box ticked.
Players like Danny Haynes, who has already made his first-team debut, along with Clarke, Liam Trotter, Chris Casement and Edward Upson, who were among the FA Youth Cup-winners last season, are already on most Town fans' radar but up-and- coming lads like Luke Webster, Kurt Robinson, Oliver Fenn, Tony Boto and Kieran Leabon, were also given the chance to catch the eye.
For the most part they all impressed, although Town fans could have been forgiven for thinking, after such a lively first few minutes, that a rout was on the cards.
Clarke had burst through within 30 seconds to get on the end of a Casement long ball but keeper Joe Lewis was out of his area sharply to block the young Irishman's attempt.
But Lewis was powerless to prevent the ball crashing in off Clarke's left foot a minute later as Danny Haynes picked him out with a superb square pass.
The young Irishman has been in sparkling form of late, scoring virtually every time he sets foot on a pitch, whether it is youth, reserves or young international level, Clarke bangs them in.
His strike partner Haynes was looking for his fourth goal in as many games against City but, although he went close a couple of times, he never quite managed it, although it was not for lack of effort or desire.
The former Charlton boy, who played in the senior side's 2-0 win at Leeds in September followed by their loss at Burnley, worked hard throughout, although he was starved of service for a large spell between Town's bright opening and lively last quarter of an hour.
The City keeper had made a good save at the base of a post from a Trotter close-range effort and got his body in the way of a Haynes free-kick.
But the Blues then produced some sloppy play, giving the ball away cheaply and never hurting City.
Norwich looked the more determined outfit at the beginning of the second half, although Icelandic keeper Oskar Peturrsson was only troubled the once, when he reacted well to turn a Billy Smart shot behind for a corner.
Haynes was booked for intervening when it looked as if a tangle between substitute Kieran Leabon and Michael Spillane was threatening to get out of hand, and the young Canary was fortunate to stay on the pitch after shoving the Town player.
That was during a spell where Town were getting back on top.
Leabon perked up the Blues and City were under pressure for the final quarter of an hour.
Full-back Webster delivered a decent cross from wide right and Clarke got a head to it but lacked direction.
Substitute Upson and Fenn hit speculative shots without troubling Lewis too much and Jack Haverson headed a Stuart Ainsley corner wide.
The lively Upson caused panic in the City defence with a jinking run but the keeper knocked away his cross.
A host of scouts were also at the game, watched by first-team assistant manager Willie Donachie and, just like the vast majority of supporters, many will be back to see a lot of these exciting youngsters defend the FA Youth Cup, with the draw being made on Thursday.
Ipswich Town: Peturrsson, Webster, Robinson, Fenn, Casement, Haverson, Boto (Upson, 51) Trotter, Clarke, Haynes (Leabon, 76) Ainsley. Subs not used: Sheringham, Hermannsson, Plummer.
Norwich City: Lewis, Cave-Brown (Eames, 45) Bexfield, Spillane, Halliday, Howlett, Smart, Thrale, Martin, Muddel, Eagle. Subs not used: Rudd, Ouargui, Daley.
Referee: S Essex.
The Under-18s victory made it a double for Town with the Under-16s beating their City counterparts 3-2.