DAVID CUFFLEY Goalkeeper David Marshall was Norwich City's Carling Cup hero with two penalty saves as they booked their place in round three but insisted: "It's better than having to take them.
Goalkeeper David Marshall was Norwich City's Carling Cup hero with two penalty saves as they booked their place in round three but insisted: "It's better than having to take them."
The 22-year-old celebrated his call-up to the Scotland squad for games against Lithuania and France with saves from Rochdale's Rory Prendergast and Gary Jones as the Canaries won 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the second round tie at Spotland.
City recovered from a nightmare start, going 1-0 down inside nine minutes to Glenn Murray's goal, to draw level through Dion Dublin four minutes into the second half. With no further score after extra time, it was left to the 'keeper and four ice-cool penalty takers in Chris Brown, Simon Lappin, Chris Martin and the returning Darren Huckerby, to complete the job.
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Marshall dived low to his right to foil Prendergast and stood up straight to beat away Jones' effort to seal victory.
He said: "I thought he was going to blast it and that's why I stayed in the middle of the goal. If he hadn't caught it well he may have scored but I took the chance. I maybe wouldn't have taken the chance if we'd been level on penalties, but we were one penalty up so I thought it was worth it and it worked out well.
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"I don't really practise them. I think you just get a feeling on the night and then go.
"I was up first and we conceded, so I was thinking 'If we miss here, there's a bit of pressure'. You can only take each penalty as it comes. I don't think there is pressure on 'keepers to save penalties but at the same time you want to help your team because it must be hard to step up from 12 yards and score."
Marshall warned, however, that City would have to improve on a below-par showing against their League Two opponents.
He said: "We didn't play well, in the first half especially. We're disappointed with the performance but I think in the Cup the main thing is to win.
"I couldn't believe how poor we were. Stoke came here and ended up losing so it is a hard place to go, but I think we need to look at our first-half performance and make sure we don't start like that again because against Championship sides we would not get anything out of the game playing like that. It's just a case of everybody concentrating and just getting back to what we're good at.
Marshall had a special word of praise for Huckerby, who completed the full two hours in his first game since May 6 after hip and groin problems.
"I couldn't believe Hucks managed to get through it. I thought he would only play an hour or so of the game but circumstances meant he had to stay on. Hopefully he's got no problems tomorrow and he's ready for Cardiff on Saturday," said Marshall.
Manager Peter Grant was relieved to see his side reach round three but warned that a head count would be needed before Saturday's Championship home match against Cardiff after striker Jamie Cureton and defender Adam Drury missed the tie at Spotland and new signing Ian Murray lasted only until half-time.
Birthday boy Cureton, 32 yesterday, was sidelined after suffering a knock at Hull and Drury missed his second match in a row with a groin injury.
Said Grant: "Jamie got a knock on Saturday and Adam was the same from last week. Jamie was struggling so we just couldn't take the chance on him. Hopefully he'll be available for the weekend but yet again, there will need to be a body count with the guys tonight. It was that bad we couldn't do a warm down."
He added: "I'm delighted we're through. I know we didn't play well but when you look at the team we had out, we played Huckerby a lot longer than we wanted. I played Murray when he was ill since the weekend. I had to play him because Adam wasn't fit, but at half-time I just felt I had to change it because it was unfair on the kid. He could hardly walk.
"Jason Shackell was struggling with an injury and we saw that later in the game. And we knew Julien Brellier was still feeling his legs and that's why we had to take him off because I thought he looked a lot sharper tonight, but yet again he was starting to feel it late in the game.
"With the amount of bodies we've got struggling, you could see the way we finished the game.
"Great credit to Rochdale but David Marshall did what he was capable of.
"Two hours was the last thing we needed. But in the cold light of day, I've got to be pleased with the fact that they kept going. To go the distance they've done and then show the composure late in the game, I've got to be pleased with that.
"I look at some of the other results and I'm delighted because we know the Cup can be a great leveller."