Reds need a miracle to progress in the Leasing.com Trophy after their second defeat in the group stage.
Ashley Nathaniel-George scored his third goal in four games to bring Reds level after Norwich had taken a first-half lead through Gassan Ahadme.
But Lewis Lomas regained the lead for Norwich, and Reds now need Portsmouth to beat Oxford United and then beat the U’s themselves if they are to have any chance of progress.
Gaby Cioffi made eight changes to the side beaten by Walsall on Saturday with only Lewis Young, Tom Dallison and Ashley Nathaniel-George retaining their places. Among those coming in were Gyliano van Velzen and Denzeil Boadu, for their debuts.
And Dutchman van Velzen nearly made a dream start to his Reds’ career. Less than a minute in and his first touch – an angled drive from the left- was hacked off the line by a Norwich defender.
But if the home fans thought that was a sign to come they were to be disappointed as Norwich’s youngsters went on to look the much more threatening side in the first half.
Andrew Omobamidele shot wide from a good position and Josh Martin clipped the post before the visitors took a 19th-minute lead when Ahadme broke from midfield and his shot squeezed under Michael Luyambula’s dive.
Reds’ best hope of a response in the first half was Ashley Nathaniel-George. A typically direct run when he cut in from the left ended with a curling effort which Billy Johnson pushed away. Nathaniel-George then made space for a shot which was driven across the face of goal with no one able to get a touch.
Luyambula would have been disappointed with the goal he conceded but the German made amends just before half-time with a brilliant save to keep out Philip Heise’s free kick. The keeper managed to touch the ball onto the bar before Reds cleared.
Cioffi brought on Nathan Ferguson and Brian Galach in the opening 15 minutes of a second half which began with Reds showing much more of an attacking threat and they deservedly levelled in the 62nd minute. Nathaniel-George’s first shot, after he picked his way past two challenges, was blocked, but he found a yard of space to slide a left-foot shot into the corner.
Reds could have taken the lead nine minutes later when Tarryn Allarakhia, who looked more at home on the right in the second half after starting in a central position, worked himself a yard of space only to fire wide of the right-hand post from close range. At that stage it was the home side who had got on top with Galach testing Johnson on 73 minutes, the keeper pushing out his shot.
But Norwich broke speedily on 74 minutes to regain the lead. Heise made room down the left, found Lomas on the edge of the box and his right foot shot flew past a helpless Luyambula. It was harsh on Reds at that stage but the Canaries nearly scored again in the 79th minute when Martin drifted across the face of the box and then hit the left-hand post with a right-footed effort.
Reds: Luyambula, Young, Sendles-White, Dallison, Doherty; Payne; van Velzen, Allarakhia, Boadu (Ferguson 49), Nathaniel-George; Lubala.
Attendance: 361 (23 Norwich fans)
Picture: Ashley Nathaniel-George holds off two Norwich defenders. Photo by James Boardman