A dogged performance from the UEA men’s first XI caused a huge upset to beat favourites Norwich United on penalties, leaving the U’s one match from the final at Carrow Road.

Despite the gulf in league between the teams, UEA started much the stronger with four early chances inside the first 15 minutes.

However, only one was on target and was saved comfortably by the United keeper.

The promising start was abruptly ended after a yellow card for Tomasz Sziemenczuk and further arguments with the referee, inviting a relief from the UEA attacks.

Norwich United’s first opportunity on goal, after a mazy dribble from the number 10, was pushed wide by Tom Smith in the UEA goal.

This save would prove to be the first of many crucial blocks throughout the game as United began to show their class and turn the screw on their smaller opponents.

With the score still locked at 0-0 after the break, Norwich pressed immediately to try and break down the UEA defence.

The hosts became deeper and deeper in their own half and their defenders had to step up to keep out the determined United.

UEA centre back Richard Black, dominated the air battle, while special mention should also be made for Olly Rust and Josh Pond who fought beyond the boundaries of exhaustion.

In a match dominated by stand out performances there was no doubt that the hero was Smith in goal, making save after save as the frequency of shots increased.

One of the most impressive was a point blank blast that was instinctively flicked over the crossbar, keeping UEA in the game.

Still, Norwich attacked and still UEA held on, squeezing through extra time and leaving the tie in the balance of penalties.

Smith again proved himself, this time saving two penalties to clinch the victory.

Wild celebrations from players, coaches and fans alike ensued, as the pitch devolved into a frenzy.

The next round will be against Yarmouth on February 18th.


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