NORWICH, United Kingdom: Mark Tyler made an emotional return to his hometown club as he helped non-league Luton Town sensationally knock out Premier League side Norwich City in the FA Cup.
The Hatters goalkeeper, who was a Norwich fan as a boy and played in their youth academy, made a string of top saves before substitute Scott Rendell banged in an 80th-minute winner for fifth-tier Luton on Saturday.
“It was an unbelievable day,” said Tyler.
“This is where I started my career, this is where I wanted to play as a young boy, so to come back here and keep a clean sheet means the absolute world to them and my family.
“The whole day was emotional. I could have filled a stand with people who wanted to come here.
“I have played at Wembley twice but this is up there as my best day in football. When you come back to your old club where you started as a young lad, as a 35-year-old, and to win, then it is special.”
The former Peterborough United goalkeeper denied Simeon Jackson and Grant Holt, while Alex Lawless cleared off the line after Leon Barnett headed against a post.
“The boys did brilliantly in front of me to limit them to two real chances,” said Tyler.
“We had our game-plan, just as we did against Wolves when we won (in the third round). Norwich had a lot of possession but it was mainly at the halfway line, but we were solid and they didn’t break us down.”
Luton, 85 places below Norwich in the English football pyramid, rocked the hosts when Stuart Fleetwood played the ball up to JJ O’Donnell, whose low cross was guided in by Rendell as all three substitutes combined well.
Tyler added: “The subs made a great impact and it was a wonderful finish from Scott Rendell.”
Tyler revealed the winning formula was planned during a two-day stint at Norwich’s local rivals Ipswich Town’s indoor training facility.
“We were quietly confident,” he said. “We knew Norwich had not had the best of runs and we are hard to play against.
“We are full of confidence and this was our fourth clean sheet in five games.
“It was a great game-plan and the staff have been brilliant. We sorted a lot of things during the two days’ training at Ipswich.”
It was an embarrassing day for Norwich, whose manager, Chris Hughton, paid tribute to his team’s conquerors.
“It is a big shock, but you have to give Luton credit,” he said.
“They came here with a game-plan, we found it very difficult to break them down.”
Although Norwich had the better opportunities they squandered them, and Hughton added: “The good chances we did have, we weren’t able to put them away.
“We pushed and pushed and they caught us on a classic counter-attack. It was a poor goal for us to concede.
“We never expected an easy game. We knew they would come motivated, organised, but you expect to break them down at some stage.
“Luton have been fortunate, but that’s cup football. Ultimately we weren’t good enough to beat them on the day.”
The last time Luton beat Norwich in the FA Cup was in 1959 and the Hatters went on to reach the final, but Tyler said thoughts of Wembley would have to take a back seat as the club bid to return to the Football League.
“Our main aim is to get out of the league and our bread and butter is Barrow away next Saturday,” he said. -AFP
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