Norwich City’s FA Cup dream in tatters thanks to the Hatters - now only Premier League survival matters
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
On a weekend when several other Premier League teams also put out weakened sides against lower league opposition and paid the price, Norwich City were beaten 1-0 by Luton Town in front of a full house at Carrow Road in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
This was the first time a non-league side had beaten top flight opposition since Sutton United beat Coventry in 1989. It was as big a shock as the Canaries’ 4-2 home defeat to Bedford Town in the FA Cup in 1956. It has to be said that Luton and their 4,500 travelling fans thoroughly deserved their win. Quite simply they wanted it more than the Norwich players, and their drive and determination were clear for all to see.
Manager Chris Hughton made six changes to his team after the debacle at Liverpool. Declan Rudd made a rare appearance in goal. Barnett was restored to the centre of defence, while Howson and Surman started in midfield. Jackson and Kane were up front. Both sides started brightly and City had three good chances around the half hour mark. First Elliott Bennett sent Jackson away but both his effort and Surman’s follow up were cleared. Kane’s shot was charged down, and finally from Fox’s corner Barnett headed against the post. TV replays show that a goal should have been given when the loose ball trickled over the line, but no goal was awarded and the ball was scrambled clear. Seconds later at the other end Luton appealed for a penalty when Howson tangled with Gray. Again nothing was given. Kane and Martin had attempts on goal before the half-time whistle blew.
Holt replaced Kane in the second half and came close to scoring in the 55th minute with a well placed header from Jackson’s cross. After 72 minutes Hoolahan replaced Surman and Pilkington came on for Elliott Bennett. Presumably the Canaries were bringing on their big attacking guns in an attempt to score the winning goal, but with 10 minutes remaining it was the Hatters who took the lead. Substitute O’Donnell raced down the left wing, crossed, and Rendell beat Ryan Bennett to stab the ball home and spark pandemonium amongst the away fans. City strove mightily for an equaliser and Martin headed wide from Holt’s cross. In injury time City might have had a penalty when Rowe-Turner controlled the ball with his arm, but the referee was unmoved.
So before the inquests and the blood letting begin in earnest let us first say “well done Luton Town and good luck in the next round against Millwall”. As for Norwich, our manager must take some blame for putting out a weakened side, which he thought would be good enough to see off non-league Luton. He was wrong and has cost the club a large sum of money plus humiliation and ridicule for years to come. I hope we increase our firepower before the transfer window closes. Our failure to score a goal at home against a non-league side only indicates how badly we need reinforcements.
Our record over the last nine games is appalling. But we cannot change the past, and the only thing that matters now is the future. We need more wins to retain our Premier League status. Cross your fingers now and start biting your nails on Wednesday when we entertain Spurs. Both sides were beaten by lower league opposition in the Cup. Both sides will be desperate to make amends. Come on You Yellows!