Ghosts give Canaries a good cup test
NEARLY 400 spectators braved the frost of Clipbush Park on Tuesday night to see Fakenham Town bow out of the Norfolk Senior Cup with honour against a stronger than expected Norwich City side.
The Ghosts had prepared their pitch carefully but could do nothing to prevent it rapidly covering with frost as the temperature fell.
Luckily the match went ahead and a mix of the Canaries' faithful band of followers and interested neutrals from surrounding clubs added to the Fakenham supporters.
The Ghosts earned respect for the way they stuck to their game plan which limited City to one goal in the first half. Fitness clearly became a factor in the later stages, when Norwich carved out openings for two more goals.
The Ghosts are in league action at March on Saturday, with Swaffham the visitors on December 27.
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Norwich City midfielder Korey Smith made a surprise 60-minute cameo as the Canaries eased into the Norfolk Senior Cup quarter-finals, writes Paddy Davitt.
Smith featured for an hour along with skipper-for-the-night Michael Nelson under the watchful eye of City boss Paul Lambert.
Nelson would appear favourite to partner Elliott Ward in the Championship against Coventry this weekend in the absence of the suspended Leon Barnett, with partner Jens Berthel Askou playing the full 90 minutes.
The Canaries' fielded a starting line-up packed with first-team experience but were made to work hard by the Ridgeons First Division side before clinching a last-eight date against Norwich United.
Oli Johnson's close-range finish gave City a half-time lead before the big striker despatched Remy Gordon's cut-back and Luke Daley's deflected shot wrong-footed Ghosts' keeper Tom Rix in the closing seconds.
'The performance was professional. That is how I would sum it up,' said City academy chief Ricky Martin.
'It was tricky playing conditions against a team that was going to be hard-working, honest and very well-organised.
'They got plenty of men behind the ball and made it difficult for us. I'd like to have scored the second earlier but we kept plugging away. While it's 1-0 you know they can get something from a set play and the pressure is back on us.
'I spoke to the manager and he felt he wanted those players to play and get some game time.
'We showed a good attitude because in those conditions, sometimes you don't have anything to win and plenty to lose, but I felt no-one let themselves down from an attitude and an application point of view.
'The most important thing was we were professional, and apart from a few bumps and bruises we have come out of it unscathed – so it was a pretty good exercise.'
Askou and Owain Tudur-Jones both finished the game with bandaged heads while Gordon was withdrawn after going over on his ankle.
'There's nothing serious that would keep them out of training,' said Martin. 'Jens had to have a few stitches in his head and Remy could have stayed on but there was no point in taking any risks.
'This is a great exercise for us to be back in the competition. You see the manager here and he can have a look at some of the younger players from an academy point of view and from a first-team point of view it's a chance to give some a competitive game. '
Fakenham: Rix, Harvey, Pease, Gilchrist, Greer, Anderson, Coe (Day 36), Savory (Alamanos 74), Hyde (Manning 79), Cole, Rawlings. Subs (not used): Rudd, Bevins.
Norwich City: Rudd, T Jones, Askou, Nelson (Gordon 60, Oakley 77)), Habergham, Dawkin, Tudur-Jones, Smith (Ball 60), Daley, Johnson, McNamee. Subs not used: Oakley, Dodds, Steer. Goals: Johnson (18, 72), Daley (87).
Referee: J Turner (King's Lynn). Attendance: 385.