Audio: Russell Martin laments Norwich City’s shock showing in FA Cup exit to Luton Town
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Russell Martin admitted Norwich City’s squad was hurt and embarrassed after they found themselves on the wrong side of FA Cup history.
Conference promotion hopefuls Luton Town became the first non-league side to beat Premier League opposition in the competition at Carrow Road on Saturday, as well as the first to do it on a top-flight side’s own patch since Altrincham beat Birmingham in 1986.
Scott Rendell’s late breakaway goal booked the Hatters’ home fifth round tie with Millwall – but more pertinently, inflicted one of the most humiliating days in the Canaries’ history.
“I’ve been in their shoes, Luton, and credit to them and all that, and yes they stuck to their game plan and did it well,” said a visibly shaken Martin. “But for us, we should be better than that.
“We expect to beat teams who come here, any team that comes here, especially one from the Conference.
“They can come here with no pressure and all that, but it is up to us to work hard and show qualities to break them down and we’ve created a few chances, but we have not converted them and we have been punished.
“The way we have been beaten the last two weeks, it hurts. It’s embarrassing really. It felt like that last week and it’s probably a little bit worse this week because you are at home in front of our own fans and it is a place where we are usually strong and we like playing.
“There were a lot of changes and you can make excuses all day long, but the bottom line is we were not good enough. We didn’t create enough, didn’t show enough quality. The will to work was there as it always is from this team – we don’t expect anything less. But yes, there was the lack of quality today.
“We should’ve at least kept a clean sheet. They only had one clear-cut chance and took it and we haven’t taken our chances, and you can say they deserve to win it.”
A much-changed Norwich side unsurprisingly had the best chances and were arguably short on luck, hitting the post and seeing convincing last-minute shouts for a penalty waved away – while post-match analysis showed Leon Barnett’s close-range ricochet may have crossed the line. But driven on by a terrific following of 4,000 fans, it was meant to be Luton’s day – something their bravery and endeavour more than merited.
And that will only heighten the inquests at Carrow Road, with City’s FA Cup exit added to a run of six Premier League games without a win and the previous hammering at Liverpool.
“He (Chris Hughton) is obviously very unhappy, as are the boys, and it’s up to us now,” added Martin. “We had a similar stage of the season earlier and we went on a great run, and it is up to us to turn it round like we did last time.
“Our character has never been in question from any of the players in this club so we’ll show that, and it’s not like we are lingering at the bottom of the table. We’ve got a seven point cushion. Yes, other teams have gone on a good run, but it is in our hands and that is the only positive at the moment.”