A home tie against Blue Square Bet Premier play-off hopefuls Luton Town was all that City boss Chris Hughton could have hoped for out of this afternoon’s FA Cup fourth round draw.
The Hatters were one of only two non-league sides to survive the third round courtesy of their shock, 1-0 win over Wolves this weekend – a result that cost Wolves boss Stale Solbakken his job just hours after the final whistle.
Hughton is unlikely to enjoy a similar fate should the unthinkable happen on the weekend of January 25th. And while every league club treads warily into a cup-tie with non-league opposition, a home clash with Luton Town is as good an opportunity to reach the fifth round as Norwich are ever likely to get.
It could even yet be picked for one of the round’s live ties, given the fact that the TV executives always go in search of a decent-looking potential upset.
This afternoon’s draw was also due reward for a thoroughly comfortable third round success against a somewhat limp Posh side yesterday.
Goals from Elliott Bennett, Simeon Jackson and Robert Snodgrass from a side that boasted eight changes from their last Premier League outing – including London Road returns for skipper Russell Martin and England Under-21 defender Ryan Bennett – ensured that the 5,000 travelling Canary fans were, likewise, rightly rewarded for dipping their hands into their pockets so shortly after the festive period.
“I thought we set out our stall well early on,” said Hughton afterwards, as Norwich ended their recent four-game losing streak in assured style against their Championship neighbours across the Fens.
To a man, he said, all the fresh faces did themselves no harm when it came to his league thinking.
“There isn’t any of them I couldn’t fault today – either for their attitude or their approach to the day’s game,” said the City chief, who once again went into battle minus two of his leading striking lights in Grant Holt and Steve Morison.
In their stead, the returning Bennett and Jackson paired together up-front effectively ended the contest before the break. It was a sweet tactical switch that worked a treat on the day.
“I’d made up my mind a couple of days ago that I wanted them to start and it was just a case of where I wanted to play Elliott [Bennett],” he revealed, as the former Brighton winger made his first start since October.
He proved all-too much for the home side.
“The fact that they play three at the back, [that meant that] if we could just have that little bit of pace and work the channels and work off the shoulder a little bit, that we might benefit from it. And I thought the both of them were excellent today.”
As was Snodgrass, who grabbed his fifth goal of the season after the interval to nip any late Posh hopes in the bud. He, too, was mentioned in the manager’s despatches.
“Robert [Snodgrass] is a good player,” Hughton told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards. “He’s playing consistently and has been adding some goals and assists to his game and I thought he was part of an all-round good performance.”
It all left Posh boss Darren Ferguson to fume over what he regarded as a miserable no-show by his Championship strugglers.
“First and foremost, we’ve got our largest crowd of the season and I have to apologise to my own supporters for that performance because we’re at home in a cup game which, for whatever reason, my players turned into a pre-season game,” said the Peterborough chief, with young Canary keeper Declan Rudd enjoying a quiet day at the cup office.
“It was a shocking performance,” added Ferguson. “In any game of football if your first proper tackle is after 65 minutes in a cup tie then you’re going to lose.”