Hughton Rings The Changes To Beat Spurs
Chris Hughton promised changes before the game and he was good to his word as he gave plenty of squad players who haven`t played much lately their chance.
Bunn, Tierney, Ryan Bennett, Fox, Surman, Butterfield, Snodgrass, Howson, Morison and Whittaker (making his debut) all had their opportunity.
Spurs also made changes but still had plenty of quality on show.
The first half was mostly dominated by Spurs in terms of possession and chances although City were dogged in their efforts to keep things tight.
Gareth Bale was the main threat but Mark Bunn was able to deal with whatever came his way.
Norwich had a couple of decent(ish) chances from a long distance Howson shot (wide) and Morison header (saved) before the break.
The second half started in the same vein and to be honest it was no surprise when Bale opened the scoring on 66 minutes when he cut in from the left and hit a low powerful shot with his supposedly weaker right foot.
I must admit that I couldn`t see where a City goal was coming from at this point but enter Chris Hughton and a couple of substitutions.
We have become used to Paul Lambert using his subs to good effect over the years and making vital changes when required that on many an occasion resulted in positivity.
Hughton has been lambasted a few times (by some) at his perceived lack of action when things haven`t been going our way.
However, on this occasion he deserves plenty of credit. Just two minutes after going behind, he introduced Jackson and man of the moment, Alex Tettey.
Spurs were slow to respond to this change and the goal seemed to awaken both the players and the crowd of 16,000 odd.
As City pushed, AVB brought on Jan Vertonghen on 79 minutes to try to see things out defensively.
Hughton responded again by introducing Grant Holt on 82 minutes and all the subs played a vital role in what was about to happen.
On 84 minutes a Snodgrass corner was nodded back across goal towards Tettey who hit his shot on the volley, first time. It was going wide but Vertonghen stuck out a leg and deflected the ball past Lloris.
Once again, the old adage of "if you don`t shoot you won`t score" was proved correct.
City were right up for it now and pressed hard, looking to avoid extra time.
Three minutes later a Snodgrass free kick was met by a powerful Grant Holt header that Lloris couldn`t hold. He parried the ball to Jackson who scrambled the ball home from 2 yards out.
With the score at 2-1 and with time almost up, Kyle Walker surged into the City area and Tierney challenged him. Walker went down and the ref pointed at the spot. Tierney clearly thought the Spurs man had dived and the TV replay (only seen it once) was a little inconclusive about contact or not.
Anyway, Clint Dempsey stepped up and put it low to Mark Bunn`s left. The City reserve 'keeper went the right way and kept the score at 2-1, which is how it finished.
Afterwards, Bunn said that he had studied the opposition`s previous spot kicks and noted that Dempsey always put his in the same place, so that`s the way he dived on this occasion - top work Mark, who says homework is pointless?!
Football has a way of coming up with coincidences and typical match ups. The quarter final has given us just that with a visit from Paul Lambert`s Aston Villa to come - you couldn`t make it up…
Despite this not being a vintage City performance, they got the result and it was done in the most exciting of circumstances for the Carrow Road faithfull against a good Spurs side.
To my mind though, Chris Hughton deserves a large slice of the credit. He made substitutions that had a real impact on the game and changed it in our favour.
He also made good changes against Villa and those that have previously stated he`s too negative should be pleased with his performance here.
Bring on Villa and let`s have a right crack at getting to the final!
By the way with regard to a few moans the other day that I heard about the cost of tickets for this match (£30 for adults), the reason for high prices is apparently due to th FA taking 40% of the gate receipts. It's actually cheaper for the club when you take into account staff and electricity bills etc etc for the game to be an away tie. Just thought I'd pass that snippet on...