Sunday, 29 January 2012

Canaries dreaming of Wembley

As Norwich City left it left to book their place in the last 16, Swansea and QPR are knocked out and left to focus on league matters.

For our three promoted clubs finding a balance between preserving league status and going for cup glory was always going to be tough. It comes as no surprise that Norwich who are the team highest up the table are now the only side left in the FA Cup of the three sides.

Darren Pratley
We will start with Swansea’s trip to Bolton, where Brendan Rodgers made a number of changes to his starting XI and play off hero Darren Pratley came back to haunt the Swans.

A great finish from Luke Moore looked to have given the Welsh side the lead at half time but in added on time, Pratley headed home, Martin Petrov’s free kick to level up the tie.

From there on Bolton took control and an error from back up goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel gifted last year’s semi finalists the winner through Chris Eagles.

Despite rallying in the final ten minutes Rodgers’ fell short and they will return to league action against Chelsea on Wednesday, as they aim to ensure they remain clear of the trap door.

In a hotly contested lunch time kick off a dubious penalty from Juan Mata was enough to end QPR’s cup run.

Mata converted from twelve yards after Daniel Sturridge fell easily under Clint Hill’s challenge.

It had been agreed that there would be no handshakes between the two sides before the start of the game and thankfully the tie passed without much incident. Unlike Norwich and Swansea, Rangers are in serious trouble of going down and they will quickly move their focus to Wednesday night’s trip to Aston Villa.

Expect new faces come in for the game at Villa Park as Mark Hughes will look to add quality to his squad and also ship out some of the dead wood.

The one success of the cup weekend was in the Midlands as Norwich won at the Hawthorns for the second time in a number of weeks. This time it was Canadian international Simeon Jackson who struck the late winner to book a last sixteen tie at home to Championship big spenders Leicester City.

Jed Steer 
The Canaries will have been indebted to debutant keeper Jed Steer who produced a man of the match performance. He produced a number of fine saves including a sensational stop to deny Jerome Thomas.

19 year of Steer was on hand again late on to stop tie going to replay as he stopped Joe Mattock and Shane Long.

Earlier on captain Grant Holt had put Norwich ahead at the break. Mark Antoine Fortune levelled things up as he had done in the league meeting two weeks earlier.

Next up for Paul Lambert’s men is the live Sky clash with Sunderland on Wednesday as they look to extend their current six game unbeaten run. 

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