Match Report: Luton Town cap crazy week for the underdog

Norwich City 0 Luton Town 1: Paul Buckle’s side record the first FA Cup victory by a non-League side away to a top-flight team in 27 years as the hosts continue their worrying run of form

Carrow Road

Bradford City having redefined the art of the possible a few days ago, Luton Town duly became the first non-League team since Sutton United beat Coventry City in 1989 to knock top-tier opposition out of the FA Cup.

And the Conference side deserved it, too. Not so much on the balance of play, but on the thoroughly professional way they went about containing a much-changed Norwich team before a decisive break 10 minutes from time saw Scott Rendell – a footballing journeyman if ever there was one – prod J J O’Donnell’s cross past the City goalkeeper, Declan Rudd.

Norwich had their chances, though not many. Leon Barnett hit the post in the first half and Grant Holt, brought on at half-time, forced a fine reflex save from the Luton keeper, Mark Tyler, with a diving header, but otherwise the Canaries created remarkably little.

“It was an incredible performance by the players,” said the Luton manager, Paul Buckle, whose side were also the first from outside the League to knock out a top-flight team away from home since Altrincham beat Birmingham City in 1986. “The most pleasing thing for me was that we defended very well and carried a threat of our own throughout.

“We took great strength from beating Wolves [1-0] in the third round, we stuck to the same plan, we tried to deny them space, and the players got it right.”

City’s manager, Chris Hughton, whose starting XI featured a number of fringe players, defended his selection.

“Yes I made changes, but I made changes in the third round when we beat Peterborough with a very good performance. I have no regrets about the team I picked, they should have been good enough to win.

“Luton came with a gameplan, we found it very difficult to break them down, the good chances we had we didn’t put away, and they caught us with what I suppose was a classic counterattack.

“They’re a fit side, an organised side, and the one chance they had they put away. It’s going to be a tough few days for us, but all of that we’re going to have to take on the chin. We didn’t deserve to lose on the balance of play, but we’re in a downward spiral and we have to lift ourselves out of it, starting on Wednesday, when we plays Spurs here.”

Luton arrived in Norfolk in good shape, and not simply because they had lost just twice in their previous 14 matches. Hospitably, but perhaps just a touch mischievously, City’s rivals Ipswich Town had afforded Buckle’s squad two days’ run of their excellent training facilities.

That the game was a sell-out was a tribute to both Luton’s 4,000-strong travelling support – the largest number of away fans at Carrow Road this season – and to City’s policy of keeping prices low, with children getting in for just £1. Luton may not have been delighted about that, given it had a direct bearing on their share of the income, but it certainly helped the atmosphere.

Such has been the rapidity of Luton’s decline that it was only six years ago these sides met in the Championship, and judging by the opening exchanges yesterday, the different directions the clubs had travelled wasn’t going to be too much of a factor.

Both sides were playing 4-4-2, with Luton pressing higher up the pitch, and while the Norwich midfielders David Fox and Jonny Howson tried to spread the play, they were not helped by Hughton’s selection of Harry Kane up front. A 19-year-old forward on a season-long loan from Spurs, his movement was minimal.

Eventually Norwich started to hit long balls, hoping the pace of Simeon Jackson and Elliott Bennett might create an opportunity. It did so after half an hour but, from an angle, the forward’s shot was too close to Tyler, and Andrew Surman’s attempted follow-up was blocked.

The closest City came occurred shortly afterwards when Barnett, up for a corner – City’s first – headed against a post. The rebound appeared to hit Tyler and came desperately close to crossing the goalline before being scrambled clear.

Hughton replaced Kane with Grant Holt at half-time, and the  big striker looked certain to score when Jackson’s cross reached him at the far post, only for Tyler – who was born in Norwich and on the club’s books as a schoolboy – to make a fine reflex save from the diving header.

Luton never panicked, though,  and continued to offer a threat  themselves. Jon Shaw shot over from 20 yards, and Alex Lawless volleyed just wide when Rendell lifted the ball into the penalty area. Hughton threw on Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington in the hoping of  adding some creativity, but it was O’Donnell and Rendell who made the difference.

“We’d dearly love to get a Premier League club in the next round too,” said Buckle. “Hopefully it will give the squad some belief, because we weren’t hanging on. It was important to stay in the game, and we did that and slowly but surely worked our way into it.”

Norwich (4-4-2): Rudd; R Martin, R Bennett, Barnett,  Garrido; E Bennett (Hoolohan, 73), Fox, Howson, Surman (Pilkington, 73); Jackson, Kane (Holt, h-t).

Luton (4-4-2): Tyler; Henry, Kovacs, Rowe-Turner, Taylor; Lawless, Smith, Mendy (O’Donnell, 68), Howells; Gray (Fleetwood, 74), Shaw (Rendell, 74).

Referee: Andre Marriner

Man of the match: Tyler (Luton)

Match rating: 7/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?