Six things you might have missed following Norwich City's FA Cup exit at Barnsley
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After elimination from the FA Cup at Barnsley, David Freezer takes a look at six things you might have missed as Norwich City took a break from the Championship promotion race.
1 – Effort did emerge
Those who didn’t watch this game may well assume that Norwich didn’t battle too hard to stay in the FA Cup, given their brilliant Championship position. City were definitely searching for an equaliser during the second half though.
The roars of encouragement from Tim Krul, the demands of Danel Farke and the direct instructions from Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson echoed around a depressingly empty and bitterly cold Oakwell.
In the league so far this season the Canaries have achieved better than Saturday’s 71 per cent of possession just twice, they’ve attempted more than 644 passes only three times and they’ve won more than 22 aerial duels just once.
On the other hand, six successful tackles was fewer than any league game so far, which may explain the worrying 10 shots on target that were conceded.
Changing the entire midfield brought a lack of fluency but still Farke’s team came agonisingly close to equalising on two occasions.
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2 – Promotion pathway
A home tie against Chelsea in the last 16 of the FA Cup has been missed, which would have brought some welcome broadcast income to help fill the financial hole created by Covid-19.
At the time of writing, prior to Sheffield Wednesday’s tie at Everton last night, just three Championship teams have made it to the fifth round – two fewer than last season.
The positive aspect is that City will now have no midweek match against Premier League opposition between next month’s trip to South Wales to take on promotion rivals Swansea and the home game against play-off chasing Stoke.
It was also just the fifth match of the 28 so far this season that Farke’s team have failed to score and when set in the context of still having won nine of the last 12 games, no tears will be shed about this defeat, as full focus fixes on the 21-game pathway to the Premier League.
3 – Hot streak ends
The Tykes did however bring an end to a remarkable amount of time without conceding a goal for City number one Tim Krul, stretching back to the win at Bristol City in October.
Straddling his nine-game injury absence, the Dutch international hadn’t conceded for over 10 hours of match action, ending at 630 minutes when Callum Styles slotted home to break Krul’s stubborn resistance, after Lukas Rupp had carelessly lost possession in midfield.
It was also the 32-year-old's 100th appearance for City, having signed a new contract at Christmas. He needs another 36 to join the club’s top 10 goalkeepers in terms of longevity, with 1950s keeper Ken Oxford on 136 but then a big gap to Charlie Dennington of the 1920s on 209.
Six keepers have managed over 200 appearances for City, with the top three of Ken Nethercott (416), Bryan Gunn (477) and Kevin Keelan (673) way out in front.
4 – So nearly the star
The man who very nearly found the equaliser for the visitors when clattering the crossbar was Przemek Placheta, on an eventful day.
From being bizarrely flagged offside despite a Barnsley player heading a corner back to him, to leaving his head coach furious after an attempted clearance skewed backwards to go out for a corner and slipping when being played through by Emi Buendia, not much worked out for the Poland international.
His cross for Buendia’s big chance was overcooked too, when his team-mate wanted it rolled to his left foot. Unfortunately it feels like a case of Placheta mostly being a ‘nearly man’ since his arrival.
Now that he’s back fit and got a couple of FA Cup starts under his belt the rapid 22-year-old needs to start turning exciting potential into regular goal involvements, if he wants to play a prominent role in a potentially exciting few months. The ability is there but he needs to think clearly in the crucial moments.
5 – Omotoye's big chance
As Jordan Hugill limped off with a hurt hamstring in the 65th minute, it afforded 18-year-old academy striker Tyrese Omotoye his longest opportunity yet to impress up front.
With Teemu Pukki and Adam Idah due to return to full training this week, the Belgium-born forward will hopefully not have a lot of importance placed on his shoulders all of a sudden when Middlesbrough arrive in Norwich on Saturday.
After impressing with seven goals in 12 games at U23 level earlier this season, the teen looks quick and strong, like he’s ready to mix it with senior pros. He held up a Hanley long ball soon after coming on and span into space but Placheta hesitated and Kieran Dowell couldn’t find him with a cross either.
But otherwise, he saw little of the ball and with Swindon Town reportedly keen to take him on loan in League One, that would appear an ideal stepping stone if Hugill’s injury isn’t serious, with Sebastian Soto recalled from Telstar.
6 – An important week
The FA Cup exit tees up an intriguing week on the training pitches at Colney, with as many as six of the 11 players who were unavailable for the game hopefully back in the mix for the Boro game.
Those 11 players have close to 2,500 senior appearances and over 150 international caps on their combined CVs, with over 500 of those appearances in Canaries colours.
So whether it’s Dmitris Giannoulis or Xavi Quintilla battling for the left-back berth, or Todd Cantwell, Teemu Pukki and Adam Idah bolstering the attacking arsenal, it would be enthralling to be a fly on a corner flag at the Lotus Training Centre this week.
Prior to Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, City will have seen Boro in action at home to Rotherham on Wednesday night, as well as promotion rivals Brentford and Swansea clashing on the same evening.
Boro see City as a bogey team since their 2-0 loss at Wembley in 2015, losing all five games 1-0 since then. Beat them again, ahead of away games at Millwall and Swansea the following week, and it’s likely this defeat at Barnsley will rarely be spoken of again.