Photo gallery: Norwich United boss praises players after reaching fourth round of FA Vase for first time in club’s history
Norwich United have progressed to the fourth round of the FA Vase for the first time in the club's history after a convincing 3-0 win against Erith Town at Plantation Park.
The Southern Counties Premier Division side provided a physical test for the Planters in a very competitive first half but it was the home side that went into the break with the advantage.
In the final minute of normal time in the first half a soft looking penalty was given after some pushing in the box after a free-kick from Jamie Speller, which Adam Bennett made sure to take full advantage of by blasting the spot-kick into the bottom-left corner, squeezing the ball under the Erith keeper.
During the break the East London side suffered a blow though as their giant centre-half James Holder went off injured. Holder stands at around 6ft 3ins tall and had been a key part of a 3-4-3 formation being played by the visitors.
Without his aggression at the heart of their defence, Norwich were able to take control in the second half and doubled their lead in the 71st minute.
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Danny Moore was booked for persistent fouling when he brought down Planters skipper Gavin Lemmon around 35 yards from goal and Speller sent in a curling low cross from the free-kick on the right.
The ball went all the way through to the back post, where midfielder Andy Eastaugh was on hand to poke the ball goalwards and divert it around the Erith keeper to see it creep in at the far post.
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The goal effectively killed the game as a contest and anything thrown at the Norwich defence by Erith was comfortably dealt with. Matthew Blake then put the icing on the cake for Damian Hilton's side in the 88th minute, after substitute Ben Jones had put the striker through one-on-one with the keeper, calmly placing his shot to the right of the onrushing keeper.
Planters boss Damian Hilton was pleased with his side's showing, saying: 'We defended really well to start with but as the game wore in we grew more and more into it and played some good football but Benno (keeper Ben Nower) has not had a save to make other than one header in the first half, but nothing on target, so credit to the back four really, all four of them I thought defended really well.
'We said before the game it was going to be tight, it always is when you get to this stage of the Vase, so we knew it was going to be a bit tight and a bit nervy to start with but we always feel we'll grow into a game.
'The fitness levels are good here so our target was to keep a clean sheet up to half-time and then reassess it but getting the goal just before half-time was a bonus.
'What we said before the game was we were not really worried about the performance, we just want the work rate and it was all about the result.
'So it was nice because it was a good performance and a good result so we'll take that.
The Planters now go into today's fourth-round draw along with Wisbech Town, with the ties due to be played on Saturday, January 18.
- In league action, struggling Thetford Town narrowly lost 1-0 at second-placed Godmanchester Rovers in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division and Gorleston were held 0-0 by Walsham-le-Willows.
While Fakenham Town are now second in the First Division, thanks to a 1-0 win at Team Bury, but Downham Town remain bottom after an 8-0 defeat at Saffron Walden Town.