The front man gave us a deserved first half lead with two close-range finishes after some clever build-up play down the left side before completing his treble in the second period as we ran out 3-0 winners at the Canaries’ Colney Training Centre.
With a handful of players away on international duty and a couple of others injured, coach Kieran McKenna shuffled his pack with Brandon Austin coming in for only his second appearance between the sticks, Under-16s defender Jon Dinzeyi back in the fold at centre-half, Joe Muscatt operating at right-back and George Marsh stationed just in front of the back four.
Torrential rain at the start of the game made for a slippery surface but the players coped well with the conditions on the whole.
Norwich had the ball in the net inside 60 seconds but an early linesman’s flag denied them and, after producing some intelligent football, we took the lead after a quarter of an hour.
Nick Tsaroulla’s cross from the left was nodded back into the danger zone by Keanan Bennetts and as Norwich’s defenders scrambled to try to reach the ball, Loft seized his chance and bundled home from six yards out.
Loft nodded just wide six minutes later after Samuel Shashoua’s cross from the left while at the other end the hard-working Zenon Stylianides (pictured, below) got back to make a fine covering tackle as Kofi Boateng raced into space in the left channel.
More near misses followed as we continued to control the game, Loft exchanging passes with Dylan Duncan but shooting over the bar on the half-hour mark and then Duncan himself seeing his volley blocked at the edge of the box from another Shashoua cross. Bennetts picked up the pieces after the latter chance but blazed off target from the left angle.
Duncan tried his luck again on 41 minutes after receiving a square ball from Loft, but his first-time shot was saved by Canaries goalkeeper Aston Oxborough.
Then came our second goal a minute before the break – and it was no more than we deserved. Tsaroulla knocked the ball in to the feet of Shashoua close to the byline on the left and he cut back for Loft, who finished from six yards out with Norwich’s defenders appealing for off-side in the build-up.
The skies were clearer for the second period and our play remained bright, but for a lack of clear-cut opportunities in the initial moments after the break.
Austin made a routine low stop to keep out Henry Pollock’s low shot on 56 minutes, while we almost grabbed a third goal when Bennetts hammered just wide from Duncan’s ball in from the left shortly afterwards.
Norwich might have pulled a goal back in the 64th minute after Devonte Aransibia ran into space and fed Boateng on the left but, following his cross, front man George Couzens fluffed his lines in front of goal and we were able to bring the ball clear.
The woodwork was then rattled at both ends – after Tashan Oakley-Boothe’s deflected cross from the left grazed the top of the bar, fellow substitute Armani Daly hit the base of the keeper’s right-hand post with a right-footed angled drive in the 69th minute.
And two minutes later it was Norwich’s turn as Couzens worked a yard of space on the left side of the box and fired across goal, his shot striking the far upright.
On 77 minutes we completed the scoring as Daly passed infield from the right to Muscatt and he slid the ball through to the feet of Loft, who turned in the box and clipped low into the corner to notch his hat-trick.
There were chances at both ends in the closing moments, Couzens volleying wide of the near post for Norwich before both Stylianides and Daly went close for us in stoppage time – Stylianides being denied by Oxborough following Tsaroulla’s cut-back and then Daly seeing his shot on the follow-up blocked away by Boateng.
But we’d already done more than enough to claim the points.
Spurs U18s: Austin, Muscatt, Tsaroulla, Marsh (Oteh 74), Maghoma, Dinzeyi, Bennetts (Daly 65), Stylianides, Loft, Duncan, Shashoua (Oakley-Boothe 65). Substitute (not used): Freeman (GK).