Chris Hughton's side were unable to find a way past inspired goalkeeper Chris Maxwell, as the home side secured an unexpected pre-season win over their Premier League opponentsNorwich City new-boy Gary Hooper was unable to inspire his new club to victory at the Abbey Stadium as the Canaries fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Conference side Cambridge United.
Despite a dominant first-half display from Chris Hughton's side, which mainly consisted of under-21 players, it was the home team who made the brighter start, shocking their Premier League opponents inside the first minute by scoring a stunning opener through Adam Cunnington.
With summer signing Hooper, who was making his first start for Norwich since completing a £5.5m move from Celtic last week, closing him down, goalkeeper Chris Maxwell launched a long ball forward to Cunnington.
The young forward, a new signing at the Abbey Stadium himself, brought the ball down cleverly before unleashing an unstoppable drive from distance past Carlo Nash into the top left-hand corner, much to the delight of the jubilant home supporters.
However, the Canaries almost pegged United back immediately when Jacob Murphy’s low cross from the right found his twin brother Josh unmarked at the far post, only for the winger to fire over from close range when in a good position.
Tom Bonner wasted a good chance for the home side, while Mitch Austin and Nathan Arnold looked dangerous on either flank for Cambridge, but it was Norwich who took control of the game as the half wore on, having only Maxwell, a loan signing from League Two side Fleetwood Town, to curse for their failure to snatch an equaliser.
Harry Toffolo had a great chance to draw the Canaries level shortly after the half-hour mark, but his tame volley from inside the 6-yard box was straight at keeper Maxwell, after the defender had done well to connect with Hooper’s flick on.
Wes Hoolahan saw an effort from the edge of the area well saved by Maxwell moments later, before the keeper was on hand once again to claw away Adel Gafaiti’s looping header from the resulting set-piece.
Hooper was withdrawn at the interval, with Jamar Loza coming on in his place, but it was the Murphy twins who continued to threaten for Norwich, as Maxwell’s brilliance continued to keep the Canaries at bay.
Norwich tired as the half wore on and they struggled to break down a stubborn Cambridge defence, with the confident home side looking more likely to add to the scoresheet, coming within a whisker of a second through Bonner; the defender leapt well to connect with a corner, but his header rebounded back off the post.
Determined not to taste defeat, Norwich responded immediately, switching to three at the back, and almost found themselves level but once again could not find a way past the inspirational Maxwell as the keeper stood tall to push away a firmly-struck effort from Loza.
However, despite a late flurry of Norwich set pieces, Maxwell continued to frustrate the Canaries as Chris Hughton's side fell to a disappointing defeat against Conference opposition, less than three weeks before the start of the new Premier League season.