Norwich end losing streak with stroll in the park
Peterborough 0-3 Norwich
THERE were no FA Cup alarms for Norwich as they comfortably saw off local rivals Peterborough at London Road to cruise into the fourth round.
The Canaries were on a four-match losing streak while Posh had turned their Championship form around with a great run over the festive period, but it was straightforward for Norwich from the moment Elliott Bennett opened the scoring after half an hour.
Simeon Jackson doubled the lead four minutes before the break and influential midfielder Robert Snodgrass made sure with a third in the 70th minute.
Former Posh players Russell Martin, the Norwich captain, and Ryan Bennett kept their places in a Canaries side showing eight changes, while goalkeeper Declan Rudd was among those given a chance to impress by manager Chris Hughton.
The hosts were weakened by the absence of three key players, with Gaby Zakuani on African Nations Cup duty, in-form striker Dwight Gayle cup-tied and Gavin Tomlin suspended.
League clubs are thin on the ground in this part of the country so this was virtually a derby despite there being 65 miles between the two. More than 5,000 Norwich fans made the trip and football special trains were brought back for the occasion.
Peterborough have not beaten a top-flight club since a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the fourth round in 1965, when they went on to reach the quarter-finals.
They began brightly, though, and Joe Newell may well have scored had Ryan Bennett not deflected his shot just past the post.
But Posh's dominance was short-lived and Snodgrass was the main player as Norwich began to get on top.
He did brilliantly to get his head to an overhit cross by Elliott Bennett in the 12th minute and Bobby Olejnik was at full strength to prevent the ball reaching Jackson.
Michael Bostwick was soon in the book for a challenge on Jackson, while Olejnik did well to push a fizzing shot from Elliott Bennett over the bar.
The hosts' resistance was broken in the 30th minute, though, with Snodgrass jinking into the area and setting up Elliott Bennett, who poked his shot into the bottom corner.
Posh manager Darren Ferguson made a tactical change, bringing on 17-year-old Jaanai Gordon for Craig Alcock and going to five at the back, but in the 41st minute they conceded again.
A long ball from David Fox caught out the home defence and Jackson took his chance expertly with a cool lob over Olejnik.
And it would have been 3-0 at half-time but for the keeper, who stuck out a hand to divert Snodgrass' free-kick over the bar.
Ferguson made another change at half-time, sending on Nicky Ajose for Nathaniel Knight-Percival, but the pattern remained the same and Snodgrass was frustrated he could only find the side netting when most of the visiting fans thought he had scored.
Grant McCann replaced Danny Swanson in Peterborough's final change, and their fans tried to inspire a comeback, but it was largely one-way traffic.
The most likely scenario appeared to be a third for Norwich, and Bradley Johnson came close but his 25-yarder was just wide while Jackson's header from a corner was blocked.
There were belated signs of improvement from Posh midway through the half but the game was all over in the 70th minute as Norwich broke away, Elliott Bennett fed Snodgrass and he calmly beat Olejnik.
The midfielder was replaced moments later by Jacob Butterfield, his afternoon's work done, and, although Posh kept pushing, it was only for a consolation goal.
They almost got it with three minutes to go after Martin had been booked for a foul on Tommy Rowe but Bostwick could only poke McCann's free-kick into Rudd's arms - the keeper's first save of the match.