Wycombe 3 Norwich City 4: Jordan Rhodes hat-trick eases Canaries into fourth round of League Cup
PUBLISHED: 03:13 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 03:13 26 September 2018
Norwich City had to survive a second half onslaught from Wycombe before Jordan Rhodes' hat-trick sealed a 4-3 League Cup third round win on Tuesday night at Adams Park.
City appeared to be cruising at 4-1 up when Rhodes completed his hat-trick in the 51st minute - plus Tom Trybull’s first half finish - after Paris Cowan-Hall had pulled one back prior to the interval for the League One side.
But Sam Saunders replied from the penalty spot, after Ben Godfrey was adjuged to have fouled Alex Samuel, and then Jason McCarthy set up a tense finish for Daniel Farke’s side with a scrambled close range finish.
Rhodes could even have had a first half hat-trick in a masterclass of front play against the game League One hosts. That accolade would come soon enough.
The on-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker instead had to settle for a brace at the interval, but as he walked towards the tunnel he was met by Teemu Pukki.
The body language and the smiles from both really spoke volumes.
Pukki’s own blitz in recent times for club and country had effectively relegated Rhodes to the margins. So much so, Farke took time out of another eulogy to Pukki following his latest match-winner at Loftus Road to hail Rhodes’ attitude.
Words are one thing but his display last night underlined he is ready, willing and able to step in when given a chance. But Pukki’s reaction was also telling.
The Finnish international appeared genuinely happy to see his rival firmly in the goals after his own starring role in City’s recent surge.
Pukki was one of nine changes from the weekend’s Championship win. Only Christoph Zimmermann and Emi Buendia were retained.
Farke sounded a touch apprehensive in the build up regarding whether such wholesale surgery would break the rhythm and disrupt that sense of forward motion.
Wanderers certainly tested his new look backline with a thrust and intensity typified by Craig Mackail-Smith. The former Peterborough forward used all his nous alongside Samuel to occupy Ben Godfrey and Zimmermann.
City were punished midway shortly after Rhodes’ early brace had put them in control, during a frenetic opening quarter.
Cowan-Hall hooked the ball past Michael McGovern after Mackail-Smith’s initial shot cannoned off the bar. If Farke’s cup line up were going to wobble, this was the moment. But Wycombe’s riposte appeared to sting.
Rhodes rolled home Louis Thompson’s curling pass but the referee was adamant he had controlled the ball with his hand. The Scottish international was not to be denied. After Tom Trybull had restored City’s two-goal lead at the far post in the 41st minute, Rhodes got his third with a predatory touch to help Buendia’s cross past Ryan Allsop after the restart.
Seconds earlier Dennis Srbeny had slammed the bar with a rising shot following a penetrative burst from Mario Vrancic. The German would have been desperate to get in on the act with Pukki and now Rhodes duelling to lead the line.
City could have done with the extra insurance despite leading 4-1, when Godfrey was adjudged to have charged into Samuel inside the Norwich penalty box.
Referee Simpson was convinced and pointed to the spot. Farke was equally convinced and remonstrated with the fourth official. Saunders kept his composure to send McGovern the wrong way from 12 yards.
That was the signal for Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth to introduce the imposing Abdebayo Akinfenwa. Wycombe sensed vulnerability again. Samuel rose unmarked at the near post in the 67th minute but McGovern superbly clawed away his goalbound header.
But the Northern Ireland international was beaten again in the 75th minute, after another superb reaction stop from Mackail-Smith merely triggered a goalmouth scramble that ended with McCarthy slamming the ball home from close range.
Farke responded with the introduction of Jamal Lewis for the tiring Thompson. City’s smooth control had long since evaporated by the time Timm Klose was needed to reinforce the visiting backline. Saunders burst free in the final minute of normal time but rolled his shot wide of McGovern’s far post.
• Wycombe: Allsop, Cowan-Hall, McCarthy, Charles (Harriman 62), Jombati, Freeman, Bloomfield (Akinfenwa 62), Saunders, Gape, Mackail-Smith, Samuel (Kashket 82). Subs (not used): Yates (GK), Morris, Thompson, Williams.
• Bookings: Saunders (dissent, 15); Gape (foul on Pinto, 44); Mackail-Smith (foul on Passlack, 45)
• Goals: Cowan-Hall (17), Saunders (61), McCarthy (75)
• Norwich City: McGovern, Passlack, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Pinto, Vrancic, Trybull, Thompson (Lewis 76), Srbeny (Stiepermann 88), Buendia (Klose 86), Rhodes. Subs (not used): Krul (GK), Leitner, Pukki, Aarons.
• Booking: Pinto (unsporting behaviour, 44)
• Goals: Rhodes (12, 14, 51); Trybull (41)
• Time added on: 2 minutes / 4 minutes
• Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancs)
• Attendance: 3,947 (1,439 away fans)