FA Cup Third Round
5/01/2019 5:30 pm
Referee: Darren Bond
Norwich City were knocked out of the FA Cup by a 94th minute Portsmouth winner, allowing them to “concentrate on the league.”
It was a game that I had mixed feelings about, such has been the excitement of the league campaign thus far.
Would a cup run be a good thing or not?
That is a question that is asked by supporters of clubs up and down the country, year in and year out. There are pluses and minuses for a club of our size but despite this defeat, I’m not heartbroken because a bigger prize is up for grabs.
Daniel Farke made eight changes to the side that drew at Brentford with some of the fringe players being given a shot at impressing the gaffer.
The game plan was ripped up after just 15 minutes though when Grant Hanley saw a straight red card for a body check on Pompey’s Ronan Curtis, 10 yards outside Michael McGovern’s area. He was the last man and referee, Darren Bond had little option but to send him off.
It was a huge blow to both player and team but you’d hardly know that Norwich were a man down in most of the rest of the game.
City still had the lion’s share of the ball and were rarely troubled by Portsmouth except for the odd counter-attack.
Of the players chosen on the night, Christoph Zimmermann was a colossus, making two goal-bound blocks and Felix Passlack did himself no harm at all with a speedy, accomplished performance. If it wasn’t for Max Aarons’emergence, I could see him being our right back.
Todd Cantwell was given the sponsors’ man of the match award and had a very good game. He floated from one side of the pitch to the other and everywhere in between, he was just too good for the Pompey midfield to cope with.
The pick for me though was Ben Godfrey who was immense at left back, centre back and then right centre back in a three-man defence for the final throes as Farke went for the win.
It was ultimately to cost City as they were caught on the counter at the death after a Kenny McLean free-kick had cannoned off the Pompey wall and was cleared to Andre Green.
Green’s first effort was blocked but the rebound fell kindly for him and he fired in off the post and into the net to win the game.
There was hardly time to do much more than kick off again before the final whistle blew and the large travelling support went crazy.
This conceding last minute goals isn’t nice, is it!?
Of the rest of the players on display, Ben Marshall was disappointing, after being switched to left back following Hanley’s red card. Tom Trybull was decent enough, always wanting the ball, as you’d expect and the long-awaited return of Kenny McLean showed promise. He was a little ring rusty but grew into the game. He played well enough all things considered and as I say, he showed promise.
Dennis Srbeny showed some nice touches throughout but was never really a goal threat and Jordan Rhodes didn’t convince me that he was either, although playing so long with only 10 men shouldn’t be overlooked. The late arrivals of Klose, Pukki and Hernandez almost turned the game for City as Farke gambled for the win, having said beforehand that he didn’t want a replay.
He lost and we lost but I’m glad there was no replay, there are bigger fish to fry.