Collins hat-trick prevents City cup progression
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
A late flurry of goals saw Norwich City beaten in their first competitive game of the new season – as Luton Town ran out 3-1 victors over the Canaries.
A James Collins hat-trick leaves City without a competitive win since February 28 when they beat Leicester City in the Premier League. The defeat extends the Canaries winless run to 12 matches in all competitions.
Kieran Dowell netted on his debut to equalise for City two minutes after Collins opened the scoring from the penalty spot. The Irish international netted shortly after City levelled to ensure Nathan Jones’ side progressed to the second round of the competition.
The depleted nature of the Canaries squad, caused by a mixture of international call-ups, suspensions and injuries, served as an opportunity for a host of the club’s academy players. Dan Barden was, as expected, given his senior debut in goal whilst William Hondermarck, Andrew Omobamidele and Reece McAlear were named on the bench.
Bali Mumba, Sam McCallum, Dowell and Jordan Hugill made their competitive debuts for Daniel Farke’s men as they sought to progress to the second round.
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Jones possessed less of a selection headache with only two first-team regulars missing the cup tie. On-loan Sheffield United full-back Rhys Norrington-Davies was handed his debut for the Hatters after signing earlier this week.
City’s frailties from defensive set-pieces were well-documented last season and the Hatters sought to exploit those nerves by crowding the inexperienced Barden at every opportunity. Luke Berry’s corner from the right was nodded across goal by Sonny Bradley but Elliott Lee stabbed his volley just wide.
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Luton were content with soaking up the Canaries passages of possession before seeking to counter attack through the lively Harry Cornick. The winger’s directness allowed the hosts to move up the pitch but his cross aimed for James Collins was defended well by Christoph Zimmermann.
McCallum was involved in City’s first major chance when Josh Martin’s corner was cleared to the edge of the box. The youngster volleyed his effort towards goal only for it to be blocked by a Luton defender.
City’s young full-backs adapted well to Farke’s demands in the opening exchanges, with Mumba and McCallum providing the width in the Canaries spells of possessions.
Mumba went close to opening the scoreline after Martin’s tame cross was cleared into his path. His shot looked destined for the top corner, only for James Shea to tip it over the bar despite a goal kick being awarded to Luton.
Mumba was proving to be the main outlet for City. Martin’s sweeping pass found the 18-year-old in the area, but his shot was blocked. It fell to Rupp outside the box and Shea failed to hold onto his tame shot, but the goalkeeper did manage to claim it at the second attempt, getting to it ahead of Hugill.
Alex Tettey came close to breaking the deadlock ten minutes after the interval when Rupp’s cross was cleared. The Norwegian hit a rasping volley towards the bottom corner, only for Shea to produce a fine stop to beat it away. From the resulting corner, Stiepermann’s shot on the turn was saved well by Luton’s keeper.
City’s quest for the opening goal continued when Martin found a pocket of space and moved the ball onto Rupp. He slipped in Mumba down the right and his shot flashed across the face of goal – with the sliding Hugill unable to make contact.
The hosts were awarded a spot-kick 12 minutes from time when Vrancic brought down Kelly-Ruddock Mpanzu in the box. Collins stepped up to take the penalty and the Irish international struck his effort straight down the middle to put the Hatters ahead.
Only two minutes later, the Canaries equalised courtesy of debutant Dowell – Vrancic’s pass into Hernandez was cleared into his path and the former Everton midfielder instinctively curled his effort into the bottom corner of the net.
But City were level for all of two minutes, Collins found Jordan Clark down the right. His cross was collected by Mpanzu in the area - Zimmermann failed to fully clear and Collins volleyed his effort into the net to reclaim the Hatters lead.
Collins completed his hat-trick in stoppage time after Clark latched onto a through pass before squaring to Collins to tap into the net.
- Luton Town (4-1-3-2): Shea; Cranie, Norrington-Davies, Pearson, Bradley (C); Rea; Mpanzu, Berry, Lee (LuaLua, 85); Cornick (Clark, 71), Collins. Subs not used: Isted, Hylton, Shinnie, Moncur, Bree.
- Bookings: Rea (foul on Dowell, 90)
- Goals: Collins 79, 83
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Barden; Mumba, Zimmermann, Klose (Vrancic, 59), McCallum (Sitti, 86); Rupp, Tettey (C); Dowell, Stiepermann, Martin (Hernandez, 72); Hugill. Subs not used: McCracken, Omobamidele, McAlear, Hondermarck
- Bookings: McCallum (foul on Collins, 70)
- Goals: Dowell 81
- Added on time: 1 min/ 5 mins
- Referee: John Busby