Norwich City lost 1-0 in the 92nd minute at St. Mary’s last night after a battling performance from a makeshift team in this FA Cup 3rd Round Replay.
With barely a single senior midfielder currently available, Alex Neil opted to play young Ben Godfrey alongside Robbie Brady in centre midfield. Josh Murphy played on the right wing with Alex Pritchard on the left with Kyle Lafferty the lone striker.
At the back, a five man defence had Martin at left wing back with Pinto on the right and a central three of Klose, Bennett and Bassong.
In the City goal, Michael McGovern had very little to do during most of the first half, likewise for his opposite number, Harry Lewis. McGovern did have one good save to make though, when he pushed Sam McQueen’s shot onto a post. It’s fair to say that the first half was ‘forgettable.’
It was a different story in the second though with Shane Long twice going close. City’s back line held out manfully against an improving home side and could’ve gone ahead.
A quick break by Josh Murphy and a teasing cross that Lafferty only just failed to connect with, let the Saints off the hook.
In the 70th minute, Nathan Redmond entered the fray and immediately made a difference. He had three decent chances, including one that he scuffed wide from 12 yards. That was a let off and a reminder of that elusive missing end product.
With City looking to hang on for extra time, McQueen stood up a cross which Long met with a header. McGovern saved from point blank range but the rebound fell back to Long, who stabbed the ball home to break the hearts of the travelling Canary faithful.
Despite a lack of a cutting edge with Lafferty doing well to last 80 minutes considering his lack of game time this season, City battled well and looked set for extra time until Long struck. Despite that though, they had only two shots all game and neither of them were on target.
The real stand out player for me was 18 year old Ben Godfrey. A mature, strong performance in the centre of the field showed that he is certainly an option for the league in lieu of the ‘senior’ players.
This is the second defeat of the week for Alex Neil’s men and with Paul Lambert’s Wolves the next opposition on Saturday, as I’ve asked before, how long can this go on?