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
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits