Southampton 1 Norwich City 0
PUBLISHED: 21:39 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 21:39 18 January 2017
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Shane Long's stoppage time winner turfed Norwich City out of the FA Cup in Wednesday's third round replay at Southampton.
Alex Neil’s much-changed line up had repelled all the Premier League side could muster until Long tapped home from point blank range to earn a home fourth round tie against Arsenal.
Only five of the Norwich players remained in the line up who started the original third round tie against the Saints at Carrow Road. Ben Godfrey earned his second senior start after featuring previously in the EFL Cup against Leeds. Robbie Brady returned from a three-match ban but there was no place for the likes of injured duo Steven Whittaker or Jonny Howson. Alex Tettey was not risked ahead of Saturday’s Championship game against Wolves, with the Norwegian international one caution from a two-match ban. Kyle Lafferty led the line with Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy offering support.
Steven Naismith was the one experienced name on a substitutes’ bench that included teenager Glenn Middleton and a rare appearance for Sergi Canos. The Spaniard has been widely touted with a transfer exit this month, with Brentford and Leeds potential suitors.
Former Norwich midfielder Nathan Redmond was again named on the bench for the hosts but there was no place in the Saints’ matchday squad for the influential Virgil van Dijk.
Neil deployed a defensive three, in a repeat of the backline at Brentford on New Year’s Eve, but Russell Martin was pushed wider into a left wing-back role given Norwich’s depleted numbers. Godfrey partnered Brady in a new-look central midfield.
City had to soak up early pressure as the Saints looked to probe in wide areas but their first counter did carry menace, Ivo Pinto and Josh Murphy combined but Lafferty failed to anticipate the low cut-back.
The pattern was set early on as the Premier League side dominated the tempo and territory. Josh Murphy, however, was enjoying the wide open spaces when City did occasionally regain possession but the visitors wasted two free kick with heavy deliveries from Pritchard and Brady.
Neil’s men steadily grew into the tie with Southampton’s smooth rhythm a sharp contrast and perhaps even a release from the high pressing threat of Championship foes.
Michael McGovern was finally worked in the 25th minute when Josh Sims drilled an angled shot at the Northern Irish international.
Jay Rodriguez then burst down the side of Ryan Bennett to collect Sam McQueen’s pass but scuffed his shot at McGovern.
Brady’s dipping free kick cleared Harry Lewis’ bar in the closing stages of an insipid half from both sides in terms of creativity and quality in the final third.
Pritchard’s trickery sparked the first Norwich foray of the second period before linking with Brady but Lafferty was crowded out in the box.
Southampton swiftly resumed control of the ball but there remained a lack of urgency from Claude Puel’s young side with the prize of a televised home fourth round tie against Arsenal on the line.
Pinto scrambled Sims’ cross-shot behind from inside his own six yard box in a rare moment of alarm. McGovern was then forced to dive full length but Shane Long’s swinging hit just past the hour mark drifted wide.
City’s gameplan to soak up pressure and strike on the break was encapsulated perfectly when Pritchard sprung Josh Murphy but his cross just evaded the sliding Lafferty at the far post.
Redmond and Oriol Romeu were introduced with Puel looking to avoid prolonging the spectre of extra-time. Neil responded with Jacob Murphy replacing his twin.
James Ward-Prowse’s dipping free kick beat McGovern but rolled behind the goal, briefly prompting those home fans in the Main Stand to rise to acclaim a breakthrough strike.
Pritchard’s blind back pass almost proved costly in the 79th minute but Sims’ chipped over with McGovern stranded.
Canos made his bow for the tiring Lafferty in a first senior outing since the EFL Cup exit at Leeds but the Spaniard’s first intervention was to cough up possession in a move that ended with McGovern parrying twice from Redmond.
Ray Grant replaced the impressive Godfrey for his debut as the hosts continued to pin Norwich back. Redmond spurned a chance to punish his old side in the 88th minute when he miscued a half-volley seven yards out.
But City’s resistance was finally broken seconds into time added on when McGovern could only parry Long’s header from point blank range before the Republic of Ireland international reacted quickest to stab over the line.
• Southampton: Lewis, Martina, Yoshida, Stephens, McQueen, Clasie, Reed (Romeu 71), Ward-Prowse, Sims, Long, Rodriguez (Redmond 71). Subs: (not used): Taylor (GK), Cedric, Gardos, Tadic, Hojbjerg.
• Goal: Long (90)
• Norwich: McGovern, Pinto, Bennett, Klose, Bassong, Martin, Josh Murphy (Jacob Murphy 73), Godfrey (Grant 86), Brady, Pritchard, Lafferty (Canos 80). Subs: (not used): Jones (GK), Naismith, Ramsay, Middleton.
• Time added on: 1 minute / 3 minutes
• Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorks)
• Attendance: 13,517