Sutton’s FA Cup run brings back happy memories for ex-Canary Allen

Former Norwich City player Malcolm Allen.

Former Norwich City player Malcolm Allen. - Credit: Archant

When Sutton United run out at Gander Green Lane tonight to take on Arsenal in a classic David versus Goliath encounter it will bring back fond memories for former Norwich City striker Malcolm Allen.

Malcolm Allen scoring against Sutton United in the FA Cup in January, 1989

Malcolm Allen scoring against Sutton United in the FA Cup in January, 1989 - Credit: Archant

The minnows from south London also made national headlines in the FA Cup 28 years ago when they beat Coventry City, then a top flight side, 2-1 to set up a trip to Carrow Road in the fourth round.

It was another dream date for Barrie Williams and his team of part-timers. But it turned into something of a nightmare in the end as the Canaries produced the sort of display Arsene Wenger will be hoping for this evening to ruthlessly put the non-league hopefuls in their place.

Looking every inch a side who were to go on to make the semi-finals and finish fourth in the top flight, Norwich swept aside the giant-killers in imperious fashion, scoring eight goals without reply, with Allen scoring four times to upstage strike partner Robert Fleck, who weighed in with a hat-trick.

Allen, who turns 50 next month, remembers the game well and still has one of two match-balls handed out on the day safely tucked away at his home in North Wales.

'It was the only time I ever scored four times in one match as a professional,' he said.

'I can't say I remember all the goals, but I do recall lobbing one over the keeper after being put through by Ian Crook, I think it was, and there was a diving header in there too.

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'I wouldn't say it was my best day in a Norwich shirt - that was probably later in the season when I scored twice to help us beat West Ham in the quarter-finals - but it was certainly one to remember.'

Allen recalls manager Dave Stringer getting his tactics absolutely spot on for the game.

'As always he did his homework and decided he would play me and Flecky up front because they had two big lads at the back who weren't the quickest and he knew our pace and movement would cause them problems. Sutton did their best but they just couldn't live with us. We had a really good side at the time and it showed.'

So does Allen think Arsenal can follow City's example?

'Well I certainly think they will win,' he said. 'Sutton have a 3G pitch which might help them a bit I still think Arsenal will be far too strong for them.'