Ex-Canary Smith enjoys role in FA Cup shock
Midfielder Jimmy Smith was finally able to celebrate being a match-winner at Carrow Road – more than three years after his first appearance on the ground.
Smith made nine appearances on loan for the Canaries from Chelsea three seasons ago without finding the net, but headed the 20th-minute goal that put them out of the FA Cup as League One visitors Leyton Orient produced one of the surprises of third round day to earn a trip to Swansea in round four.
He said: “It’s a great club with great fans. I was here about six months and I really enjoyed it. To get a goal, and the only goal of the game, is pleasing for me.
“I came back last year and unfortunately we lost 4-0, but we had a man sent off so it was a bit hard for us. So we wanted to get one over on them today and we did that.”
City boss Paul Lambert left out some of his regular starters – skipper Grant Holt, midfielder Andrew Crofts and goalkeeper John Ruddy – but Smith did not feel that devalued Orient’s victory in any way.
He said: “It didn’t matter to us what team they put out, even if they had put the reserves out. We had to go out and do the same thing. If they want to do that, that’s down to them. At the end of the day they had to bring the likes of Holt on to try to win the game, but it didn’t happen.
“It was hard but we dug in deep and defended really well. I think that’s the best I’ve seen us defend as a unit all season.”
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Smith headed the winner from a short corner routine, with Dean Cox delivering the cross.
Orient boss Russell Slade said they had spent time on improving Smith’s heading ability.
“He has played the majority of the season. At the start he didn’t get in, but once he got in the side he’s done terrifically well and what’s probably been for me a little bit of a weakness, his heading, over the past two weeks has been terrific,” said Slade.
“He’s scored two headers in the last two games and two vital goals, and he really seems to be enjoying his football.
“The coaches have worked on it a little bit and Jimmy’s worked on it himself. He’s a good professional, an absolute 100 per center. He deserves that because he’s threatened to score on numerous occasions and it’s been a little bit frustrating for him but now he’s got two in two weeks, so he’s starting to tot them up a little bit.
“When he first went from Chelsea to Queens Park Rangers on loan he was quite lethal in midfield. I think he scored a number of goals for them so we’re pleased he’s started to score for us.
“It was a super header and he had to do a lot of work to get there. He got up, he hung there and he placed it nicely in the top corner.
“The thing about Dean Cox is that every week he does seem to find the one ball, the one cross that’s there for you to go and head in. He’s found it again. He was the one that found it last week for Jimmy as well, so full credit to him.”
Slade said Smith had felt at home on his return to Norwich.
“He enjoyed his time here. We stayed in the hotel where he spent six months, at Dunston Hall, so to come back he was in familiar surroundings,” said Slade.