Tranmere’s lethal striker James Norwood targets an FA Cup upset against Tottenham

James Norwood
James Norwood

James Norwood, the Tranmere Rovers striker with more goals this season than Harry Kane, plans to be at his lethal best as they welcome Tottenham in the third round of the FA Cup.

Despite not scoring in his last four matches, Norwood has been in fine form this campaign and has two more league goals to his name than the England skipper.

He is joint-top of the League Two scoring charts with 16 and the former England C international captain is keen to test himself against the eight-time FA Cup winners.

“Tottenham have no real weaknesses and they give very little away,” said Norwood. “It is a huge task for us but one we and our fans are looking forward to. You see what they are doing to Premier League teams most weeks. With their power and skill levels, they are one of the most complete teams out there. Going forward, Harry Kane and Son have just been incredible.”

Rovers will take inspiration from Newport County’s fine FA Cup achievements last season. Last January, the team from South Wales forced a replay against Tottenham after a memorable 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade, before losing out 2-0 in the Wembley replay.

“Newport showed the way. We will have to change what we do slightly and create an environment that will make it difficult for them,” he added. “Newport made it extremely tough for them and we have to look to do the same. The pitch here will not be what they are used to. We have to look for little gains and take advantage where we can.”

Since joining Tranmere from Forest Green Rovers in 2016 the former Crystal Palace and Brighton youth striker has scored 68 times in 140 appearances - he has been the ultra-dependable goal-every-two-game type of forward.

Last May the 28-year-old scored the winner in the play-off final at Wembley. It was a decisive header that saw Rovers return to the Football League after a three-year absence. Life back in League Two started well. The goals were flowing nicely for Norwood and Micky Mellon’s Tranmere are currently ninth and within striking distance of the play-offs after 26 matches. Norwood is out of contract this summer and his chairman Mark Palios, the former FA chief executive, has already stated he doesn’t want to lose his main striker in the January window.

An inspired performance against Spurs would increase his stock further but, the player who made his senior debut as lightning quick 18-year-old with pink boots for Eastbourne Town in the Ryman League South, says he just wants to concentrate on being part of something special for Tranmere.

“It will be a proud moment,” admitted Norwood, who still favours his trademark pink boots. “I remember my time with Eastbourne Town and I learnt a great deal about adult football. To go from there and then to play Tottenham in the Cup is something special.

“There will be a full house at Prenton Park and hopefully we can deliver a performance to be proud of. It would be a great time to get back on the scoresheet but we all know how tough it will be.

“I started the season well but I missed a few good chances against Bury four games ago and I haven’t scored since. I had a bit of a sulk but we went through the clips and the manager said he is pleased with the other aspects of my play. It’s been very frustrating but all you can do is work hard for the team and get in the right positions.

“I have had messages of support already and a few Tottenham fans have also been in touch wanting tickets and asking me not to injure any of their players!”

Norwood has huge admiration for his opposite number Kane and the possibility of competing against him and a host of international stars is reward for a decade of toil in the lower leagues.

“As a striker you have to admire what he has achieved. He continues to improve and seems to get better each season. He is always in the right place and when he gets his chance, he is lethal.”

Ever since his days at Eastbourne, Norwood has also had the happy knack of being in the right place and he has forged a successful career in the lower divisions doing just that. Should he get just one sniff of a chance against Spurs, he will need to be just as lethal as Kane.