Adam Idah’s brilliant hat-trick in Norwich’s 4-2 win at Preston may have grabbed the majority of the headlines but the Cork native wasn’t the only Irish player to shine in the FA Cup third round.
Ireland U19 international Will Smallbone enjoyed a debut to remember, opening the scoring with a thunderous volley in Southampton’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield at St Mary’s on Saturday.
Shane Long, who had earlier had a goal ruled out after a VAR review ruled the striker offside, teed up Smallbone’s strike with a clever header.
“It was a special moment for me to make my debut and to mark it with a goal made it even better,” said Smallbone.
“I’ve worked so hard to come through the academy, so to be finally given the opportunity was special.
“All I wanted was to celebrate in front of the fans. My mum was here, so it was special for her to see.”
If 19-year-old Smallbone falls into the potential category, Harry Arter would be more of a veteran.
However, the 30-year-old’s left foot remains as potent as ever, something he proved with a screamer from 25 yards to give Fulham a 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
Second-half substitute Arter was only on the pitch a matter of minutes when he blasted into the top corner for his first goal for Fulham.
Paying tribute to Arter, who was making his first appearance in three months after being struck down with a calf injury, Fulham boss Scott Parker said:
“Both goals were pretty special. But for Harry, in the sense he has been out for three months, he’s worked hard for some long and lonely days, and when you probably doubt what you have, to come on and score the winner probably justifies everything.
So for that moment, and for what it was, probably Harry’s was better. I’m pleased for him, he’s worked hard. He’s got himself a position and had a shot. It was a good moment.
“He came in at the beginning of the season and is a player we knew would give us something. It’s a shame he had a big injury but we all understand the player we’ve got. It’s moments like this, for both Harry and the team, that we need to build on,” said Parker.
Jeff Hendrick was also on the mark on Saturday, his goal helping Burnley to a 4-2 win over Peterborough United while Daniel Crowley netted after just four minutes in Birmingham City’s 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers.
Yesterday, Callum Robinson opened the scoring in Sheffield United’s 2-1 win over non-league side AFC Fylde, while Paul Green grabbed a consolation in Crewe’s cup adventure which was ended by a 3-1 defeat at home to Barnsley.