City penalty hero Fraser Forster hailed the Canaries’ spot-kick prowess after the 5-3 shoot-out win at Swindon saw them through to the JPT southern area semi-finals.
A patched up Norwich team, with only two survivors from the weekend drubbing of Paulton Rovers, defended stubbornly and a goalless draw always looked on the cards.
But they were ruthless when it mattered and remarkably, Forster admitted that City dispatched all five penalties without any prior practice.
“To be fair to the lads, we haven’t practiced anything, so they have just gone up there and put them away, which is what you need in that situation,” he told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“I thought we defended well all night to be fair and we were unlucky not to get a chance to score and just make it 1-0.
“But the team changed quite a bit for the game and I thought all the lads did brilliantly,” continued the on-loan Newcastle man.
Despite some clinical finishing from the spot, it was the Hexham-born player who ended up the obvious hero after his save from Craig Easton.
But the 6ft 6 ‘keeper was a perfect example of modesty afterwards – as far as Forster is concerned, he had nothing to lose.
“I just guessed right. It was a pretty soft penalty, but it was nice to save one. I think it’s one of them when you’re a ‘keeper – you’re not really expected to save anything. But if you do save something, you’re a bit of a hero.
“I’m just happy to save one. But the lads’ penalties were absolutely brilliant. And it’s much easier if everyone scores, it takes the pressure right off.”
While Forster was getting plenty of praise after his crucial save, he was keen to acknowledge the collective Canary effort in Wiltshire.
And with a mixture of fringe players, Academy youngsters and those returning from injury, to win through against a League One play-off rival was quite an achievement.
“There was a massive team contribution all over the pitch, I thought the lads defended and got forward as a team. It was a really good team performance.
“And when we were under pressure at the end, we hung on and I don’t think really looked like conceding.
“It’s nice for some of the lads who don’t play week in, week out to play to show what they can do, to give the manager a bit of a selection headache for the weekend.
“It’s another victory and another clean sheet, and it keeps the lads confident. Hopefully we can take that on into Saturday’s game as well.”
Last night’s triumph all means that Paul Lambert’s men find themselves just two ties from Wembley, with the area semis and final between them and the home of English football.
But Forster revealed that they weren’t thinking that far ahead just yet. Well, certainly not in public…
“We don’t really think about Wembley yet. It’s just that we want to win every game we play in and all the lads are that professional that everyone wants to win.”
One thing is for sure, City will want a home draw next up after playing their last three cup ties away from Norfolk.
It’s another road trip next up in the FA Cup so it’s fair to say that the staff, players and fans have done their fair share of travelling in recent weeks.
“A home draw would be nice,” continued Forster, who is enjoying a good battle for the No1 shirt with Declan Rudd.
“We seem to get draws that are as far away as possible and the FA Cup will be another decent journey. But it’s just about playing football and the lads are loving doing it so it doesn’t matter one bit.”