Jed Steers Norwich City to FA Cup fifth round clash with Leicester City
Norwich City beat West Brom 2-1 on Saturday in the fourth round of the FA Cup in front of a disappointing crowd of less than 18,000.
This was a repeat of the score when the two clubs met at the Hawthorns in a league game two weeks ago. City’s reward is a home tie with Leicester City in the fifth round on 18th February.
Both managers tinkered with their line-ups for this game. Mr Lambert gave a debut to young goalkeeper Jed Steer. Drury was recalled at left back. Crofts, Bennett, and Hoolahan were also recalled to first team duty. Ruddy warmed the bench, together with Johnson, Tierney, Barnett and Wilbraham. On loan Naughton was not allowed to play by his parent club, in case he became cup tied. Vaughan and Ward, both close to recovery from long term injuries, had to wait a little longer for their turn. Surman and Morison were not in evidence – presumably it was their turn for a day off.
The first 20 minutes were relatively humdrum. Steer made an excellent save after 21 minutes when he tipped a shot by Thomas onto the bar. Holt, whose turn for a day off it clearly was not, had been playing as a lone striker and gave City the lead after 35 minutes when he scored his ninth goal of the season by converting Bennett’s cross after good work by Hoolahan.
Albion levelled ten minutes after the break when Thomas beat Martin and his cross was side-footed home by Fortune. After 60 minutes Holt was booked by the same referee who sent him off at Reading last year. Soon afterwards Lambert made a double substitution, Jackson and Wilbraham replacing Holt and Hoolahan. Martin’s name too went into the referee’s book, and with 15 minutes to go Lappin replaced Pilkington. Ayala then became the third Canary to be booked.
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But five minutes from time the 3,500 travelling Canary fans had something to shout about as Albion defender Dawson dawdled on the edge of his box and Jackson took advantage of his hesitation to nip in, rob him, and score the winner. Steer made two more good saves at the end to deny Albion an equaliser and save both sides having to replay at Carrow Road, which in truth both of them wanted to avoid.
So despite manager Hodgson’s mutterings and splutterings about Albion not deserving to lose and being mugged again, City are in the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2007. All credit to Jackson for yet another late match winning goal, to the manager for some inspired team selection and substitutions, and to the whole team for a good performance. But most of the praise, the plaudits, and the press coverage will deservedly go to 19-year-old Jed Steer.
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Norwich have a fine tradition of producing good young goalkeepers and in Jed they seem to have unearthed another gem. His credentials are impeccable: Season ticket holder at Carrow Road, England under 16 international, under 17 international, under 19 international who kept a clean sheet on his debut and saved a penalty to boot, several games and invaluable first team experience on loan at Yeovil earlier in the season, and now an excellent first team debut for Norwich. Quoth Mr Lambert “I thought his saves were world class. He was terrific.” Praise indeed from the very top. Well done Jed.
There is an ongoing debate about whether the Canaries should focus all their efforts solely on Premier League survival and if the FA Cup really matters any more. The FA Cup matter? It certainly does if you win it, or have a glorious and money spinning cup run. Leicester City at home is the perfect draw for us. I am not complacent, but I haven’t yet visited the new Empire Stadium ….”three games till Wembley, there’s only three games till Wembley”.