Preston North End 2-4 Norwich City: Idah hat-trick gives City first FA Cup win in seven years
- Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City have progressed through to the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in seven years, with an Adam Idah hat-trick helping them secure a 4-2 victory over Alex Neil’s Preston North End at Deepdale.
Idah opened the scoring after 90 seconds, as he ran onto a through pass from Marco Stiepermann before converting. The Irishman profited from a miscued clearance from the hosts goalkeeper to lob his second effort into the net from 35 yards.
Onel Hernandez' goal gave City a three goal cushion at the break, with Billy Bodin's header after the interval pulling a goal back for the Lilywhites.
Idah secured his hat-trick soon after, converting from the spot after being brought down by Connor Ripley. Josh Harrop scored late on but it proved to be little more than a consolation.
City boss Daniel Farke made eight changes to his side, with the FA Cup providing some much-needed respite from the relentless Premier League schedule over the festive period.
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Moritz Leitner returned from the shadows to make his first start in two months alongside midfielder Tom Trybull. Idah made his second start of the season, with his previous outing coming in City's 1-0 defeat to Crawley Town in August.
Alex Neil made nine changes to his side, with the Scot having one eye firmly placed on their league progress. Preston have dropped to 10th in the league following successive defeats in the Championship.
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Ex-City goalkeeper Declan Rudd was among the substitutes alongside veteran midfielder Paul Gallagher, who scored the goal that cost Neil Adams his job as City boss in 2015 and paved the way for Neil to become manager.
It took 90 seconds for City to gain an advantage, with Idah the scorer. Jamal Lewis held possession well before finding Stiepermann on the half-turn. The German slotted a pass through for Idah to run onto. The Irish striker coolly sidefooted into the net.
Preston recovered well and went about asserting their philosophy onto proceedings. A crossfield pass from Josh Harrop was knocked down by Jayden Stockley for Darnell Fisher, but the right-back's effort was saved comfortably by Michael McGovern.
City weren't pushing beyond second gear and were nearly punished as Trybull was dispossessed in his own half. Harrop eventually received the ball out on the left and his teasing cross was headed wide by the towering Stockley.
Moments later, City were let off again, this time it was Billy Bodin going close for Preston. Trybull conceded possession for a second time and the hosts broke with intent. Stiepermann tackled Ledson but the ball fell for Bodin whose effort was tame.
After 28 minutes, the Canaries had doubled their advantage courtesy of an Onel Hernandez strike.
The supply line for City's second goal was similar to that of their first, with Lewis' pass cutting through the Preston defensive shape and finding Stiepermann. He threaded the ball through to Idah, who attempted to chip Ripley but was unsuccessful with his effort.
Preston cleared, but only as far as Hernandez who cut inside from the left and hit a driven shot towards goal. Ripley let it slide underneath him and into the net.
City's dominance in possession was evident, with Stiepermann locating pockets of space at ease. He received the ball from Idah and looked to set Hernandez away in-behind. Ripley raced out and his miscued clearance landed straight at the feet of Idah, who lifted the ball into the net from 40 yards.
The stark difference in level was evident on the occasions City did concede chances only for Preston to squander them. City have been ruthlessly punished in the Premier League this season but were let off during the first-half of this tie.
Idah was close to securing his hat-trick moments after the break, as City worked a corner short before Stiepermann lifted in a cross which the striker glanced inches wide.
Preston found a route back into the game moments later, when Bodin headed the ball into the net from the second phase of a corner. Davies met the cross and the Welshman was unmarked in City's six-yard box, leaving him to convert from close-range.
The hosts had a flurry of chances thereafter, with Ledson's powerful drive and shot forcing a save from McGovern.
City continued to look threatening and were inches anyway from adding to their tally through Trybull. Leitner's corner evaded everyone but Hernandez at the back post. His low cutback found the German midfielder but he side-footed his effort over the bar.
Stiepermann was the operator pulling the strings for the Canaries, with another through pass being latched onto by Idah. He rounded Ripley who brought down the 18-year-old for a penalty.
The Irishman stepped up looking to secure his hat-trick and confidently dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner.
Preston were refusing to lay down quietly. A cross from the left found Fisher at the back post, who forced a sublime fingertip stop out of City's keeper.
Neil's men continued to harrass City and were rewarded from their efforts with another goal on the 85th minute.
Ledson picked out Bodin just outside the box, he threaded it through for Harrop who took a touch before slotting the ball low past McGovern.
- Preston North End (4-2-3-1): Ripley; Fisher, Storey, Davies (C), Rafferty; Ledson, Bayliss; Bodin, Potts, Harrop; Stockley. Subs not used: Rudd, Pearson, Clarke, Gallagher, Barkhuizen, O'Reilly, Nugent.
- Bookings: Ripley
- Goals: Bodin 48, Harrop 85
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): McGovern; Byram, Zimmermann (C), Amadou, Lewis; Trybull (Hanley, 68), Leitner; Hernandez, Stiepermann, Cantwell (Aarons, 82); Idah (McLean, 87). Subs not used: Krul, Vrancic, Buendia, Tettey.
- Goals: Idah 2, 38, 61, Hernandez 28
- Added on time: 2 mins/ 3 mins
- Attendance: 7,616 (833 away)
- Referee: Martin Atkinson