Norwich City 0 - 1 Luton City: The Hatters glee party
Substitute Scott Rendell’s strike ten minutes from time earned Luton victory over Norwich as a non-League side beat top-flight opposition in the FA Cup for the first time in 24 years.
The lethargic Canaries were made to pay after spurning chances from Leon Barnett, who crashed a header off the post, and half-time substitute Grant Holt, who had a point-blank header saved by Mark Tyler.
The decisive moment came in the 80th minute when JJ O’Donnell crossed from the left to find Rendell, who slid in to find the net and earn Blue Square Premier Luton a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup – emulating Sutton, who beat Coventry in 1989.
Rendell said afterwards: “It’s unbelievable to score the winner in a cup tie like this. It’s an unbelievable feeling to come to a Premiership club like Norwich and turn them over. It’s fantastic to be part of history. We were aware of it. It’s been a fantastic day for everyone.”
Norwich were booed off and will be keen to forget their display, with immediate attentions turning to Wednesday’s Barclays Premier League meeting with Tottenham.
For Luton, who last beat top-flight opposition in 1994, the match will live long in the memory.
Rather than take the initiative, Norwich were drawn into a scrappy battle as Paul Buckle’s Luton set about their task well. Two early corners were forced by the visitors but did not beat the near post. Centre-backs Ryan Bennett and Leon Barnett were again unflustered as Luton attacked down the left, but further forward the Canaries were toiling, disjointed and harassed as they tried to craft a way through.
Harry Kane forced a corner, from which Norwich came close to the opening goal. An initial header by Russell Martin was met by Barnett, who bulldozed in to meet the ball above Tyler, but it crashed off the post and was scrambled clear by Alex Lawless.
Having so nearly gone ahead, the hosts were frantically defending a Luton counter-attack and referee Andre Marriner was unmoved when Andre Gray went down in the box under a challenge from Jonny Howson.
Kane was replaced at half-time for Grant Holt, who took the captain’s armband from Russell Martin and provided a presence up front Norwich had lacked in the opening 45 minutes. Gray shot tamely as Declan Rudd was called to make a save for the first time before Holt was denied after 55 minutes.
Andrew Surman found Simeon Jackson, who clipped a cross to the back post where Holt met it well, only to find Tyler well positioned to save.
Martin’s driven cross was diverted over from under his crossbar by Janos Kovacs and the resulting David Fox corner was just too high for Holt.
The Hatters took the lead with a devastating move down the left as three substitutes combined. Stuart Fleetwood freed O’Donnell down the left, he reached the byline and cut the ball across and Rendell nipped in front of Ryan Bennett to direct the ball home.
Norwich never looked like finding an equaliser and hopeful shouts for a penalty when the ball bounced off Lathaniel Rowe-Turner’s thigh were in vain as Luton claimed a famous win.
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