Martin caps perfect start
David Cuffley SLIDESHOW: Striker Chris Martin played down talk of Wembley omens after staging his own goalscoring action replay at Carrow Road last night. The 20-year-old's first competitive goal of the season was enough to give the Canaries victory over Brentford in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy first round - the second time he had stung the Bees in the same competition.
Striker Chris Martin played down talk of Wembley omens after staging his own goalscoring action replay at Carrow Road last night.
The 20-year-old's first competitive goal of the season was enough to give the Canaries victory over Brentford in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy first round - the second time he had stung the Bees in the same competition.
Martin was on target for Luton in a 2-2 draw against Brentford in last season's second round before the Hatters clinched victory on penalties, their first step on the road to lifting the trophy.
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But Martin, given a place in new manager Paul Lambert's starting eleven for the first time, was not making too many comparisons with the cup run that became the highlight of his season-long loan spell at Kenilworth Road.
“We never know. We don't walk to talk about it too soon,” he said, after his 30th-minute winner in front of a very healthy crowd of 12,540. “There's still a long way to go in the competition, but it's a nice win here and we're through to the next round.
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“I really enjoyed it. It was nice to get a game and I think we dug in well and came away with a win that we probably deserved.”
Martin's goal, a powerful effort that flew in off the post, demonstrated his ability to cut in from the left touchline and create problems for opposing defenders, a tactic that almost brought him goals in a late appearance as substitute in the 2-1 League One defeat at Brentford a fortnight earlier.
He said: “I think it favours me in the fact that I like coming in and shooting on my right foot. If you ask most right-footed players, they like coming in off the left-hand side and shooting.
“I was pleased with it and it was nice to go through to the next round. I'm probably not as sharp as I'd like to be but every 90 minutes helps and I hope I can keep on playing and that will get me sharper.”
Martin made amends for a miss in the opening minutes when he intercepted a poor backpass by Brentford skipper Kevin O'Connor but poked his shot wide of the post.
He said: “It was sloppy me. I should have just come on to it and placed it in the far corner but I was happy to make up for it with the goal I scored.”
Martin was not the only man given the chance to impress after Lambert made seven changes to the team that started Saturday's 2-0 win at Hartlepool, including midfielder Darel Russell and striker Goran Maric in his starting eleven for the first time.
“A lot of the boys had a chance to do that. There were a few of us who hadn't played, like Goran and Rusty, and this was a chance for them to show the manager what they can do and give him a headache for selection on Saturday,” said Martin.
“I'd like to play as many games as I can and I hope I've done enough to be involved in the squad on Saturday.”
As Lambert prepares for the League One visit of Walsall, he acknowledged that Martin had given him food for thought.
He said: “It was a brilliant goal, a terrific goal. He hasn't played for a number of weeks. The lads are tired - there are a few in there really, really tired considering they haven't played but his goal was absolutely first-class.”
As for Martin's miss, Lambert said: “If you're telling me no striker alive misses the target - and the easy thing is to go into his shell but he never. He kept on wanting the ball and taking it, which shows a sign of bravery.”
Lambert was delighted with the result and the attendance - and a second clean sheet in a row.
He said: “I think that breeds confidence throughout the football club, that the lads are starting to defend the way we want them to defend. But you have got to have somebody able to stick the ball in the net so if you put the two of them together the last few games they have been brilliant, to be fair.
“It's another victory, which is great, with wholesale changes so it let me see lads I haven't seen playing before.
“Brentford weren't going to come here and just let us have the ball. They are going to try to stop us and they've just beaten us just a few weeks ago so we have got our own back. If you can show me a football team that is going to come here and let you dictate games I'd love to play them.
“It's incredible that twelve and a half thousand here on a really wet night have come out and supported the lads again. This is a brilliant fan base, no doubt about it.”
Lambert was pleased with Russell's contribution, while admitting that Maric lacked match practice.
He said: “I thought Darel was terrific. He hasn't played for I don't know how long so to last a game let alone his performance - he was great.
“Goran's the same - he hasn't played and he looks a little bit rusty, there's no doubt, but Darel's performance considering he hasn't played for a long time was great.”
Simon Lappin, given the captain's armband with striker Grant Holt rested, also earned praise from the manager.
“The last three games he's been absolutely terrific. His performances have been a high level of consistency, which with the amount of players left out tonight was really pleasing,” said Lambert.