A first-class job by Robinson
DAVID CUFFLEY Gary Doherty paid tribute to his latest central defensive partner for the key role he played in keeping Norwich City in the FA Cup. Injury to veteran Dion Dublin meant midfielder Carl Robinson had to play more than half an hour at centre-back as the Canaries earned a fourth round replay with a 1-1 draw at Blackpool.
Gary Doherty paid tribute to his latest central defensive partner for the key role he played in keeping Norwich City in the FA Cup.
Injury to veteran Dion Dublin meant midfielder Carl Robinson had to play more than half an hour at centre-back as the Canaries earned a fourth round replay with a 1-1 draw at Blackpool.
Dublin had returned to the defence at Bloomfield Road because of Jason Shackell's absence with an injured left ankle, but he hobbled off after less than an hour with his left leg strapped, forcing Robinson to take over.
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Doherty, who has played alongside Shackell, Dublin and Craig Fleming at the back this season, praised the Wales international for his confident display, which included two vital interceptions to deny Blackpool substitute Keigan Parker.
“He did an excellent job,” said Doherty. “He's done it a few times. When we get the odd knock at the back, Robbo always comes back.
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“In training he always does excellently there and he can be well pleased with his performance today because he was outstanding.”
Manager Peter Grant said he would have no worries about Robinson continuing at the back against his old club, Wolves, at Carrow Road in tomorrow night's Coca-Cola Championship fixture, if necessary.
He said: “We'll have to play him if the other boys aren't fit, but he can play there because he plays 10 yards further up the pitch anyway. He's an intelligent footballer, he understands the game. I thought he slotted in there well, he read things exceptionally well and used his intelligence to great effect in a difficult period.”
City and Blackpool face a Carrow Road replay on Tuesday, February 13, with both clubs eagerly awaiting today's fifth round draw.
Whatever the outcome of the replay, the Canaries' scheduled Championship game at home to Derby on fifth round day, Saturday, February 17, will have to be rearranged as the Rams are already through to the last 16.
On Saturday, Blackpool defender Ian Evatt's 52nd-minute equaliser cancelled out Darren Huckerby's goal in first-half stoppage time, and City finished the match with 10 men when new striker Chris Brown was sent off for two yellow cards.
Said Doherty: “I think in the first half we did all right and got 1-0 up with a late goal, but unfortunately a set piece killed us. Then with Dion getting injured and going down to 10 men, it became really hard on a really tough pitch to play on, which was very bobbly but quite soft as well.
“Just before half-time is a great time to score but unfortunately we let the lead slip very early in the second half, which is disappointing. We need to hold on to those leads because we're not really a free-scoring team at the minute.
“But as long as we're in the draw for the next round, that's one good thing.”
Doherty admitted that City's list of absentees was making life very difficult.
He said: “All over the pitch we're having a bit of a nightmare. Brownie's going to be suspended for Tuesday. Dion's a bit touch and go, Shacks is a bit touch and go, so it's tough at the minute. We've just got to dig into the squad, although there's a lot of youngsters, and try to drag them through and try to get some results.”
Grant praised on-loan goalkeeper David Marshall, who made no fewer than five important saves on his debut, including tipping over a goalbound header from Kaspars Gorkss in stoppage time at the end of the game.
He said: “He made some great saves and he's a good goalkeeper. That's why I've chased him for about three months.
“I'm very pleased to get him and he did exceptionally well. He's a big presence, a confident boy in difficult conditions. There was a calmness and an assurance about his performance.”