Norwich City’s 2019-20 Carabao Cup campaign came to an end at the Round Two stage following defeat at Crawley Town.
City created plenty of chances on a hot and humid night in West Sussex, but were ultimately unable to break down a resilient and stubborn performance from the League Two outfit.
Patrick Roberts and second-half sub Emi Buendia both hit the woodwork, but in the end it was Bez Lubala’s low deflected goal that proved the difference between the two sides.
Daniel Farke refreshed his side following the weekend’s valiant Premier League defeat against Chelsea at Carrow Road.
The headline changes in an entirely new starting XI saw summer signings Ralf Fahrmann, Ibrahim Amadou and Patrick Roberts make their first appearances in yellow. There were also competitive debuts for left-back Phillip Heise and academy graduate Adam Idah.
Backed by a 1,700-strong travelling support, it was City who raced out of the traps.
Inside the opening 60 seconds the returning Christoph Zimmerman fired a pinpoint cross-field ball into the path of Heise. After a couple of neat touches he pulled the ball back from the left byline into the path of the onrushing Kenny McLean, who saw a low shot repelled by the feet of Crawley stopper Michael Luyambula.
And Luyambula had to be alert again on five minutes to keep out a similar move down the City left.
Heise was once again central in the move, playing a neat give-and-go with McLean before firing into the midriff of the Crawley ‘keeper from the left channel.
The signs were positive for City. As McLean arrived at the back post to head a Sam Byram cross straight at the goalkeeper, it felt like only a matter of time before the deadlock was to be broken.
And that proved to be the case, though unfortunately it came at the wrong end of the pitch.
Against the run of play Crawley forced a corner after a lively foray forward from Lubala. From the resulting kick the ball was half-cleared as far as Lubala, who fired the ball low back into the area which cannoned off Idah and beyond a wrong-footed Fahrmann.
That goal, and lengthy treatment to an injury to Timm Klose who was forced from the field of play, seemed to knock City out of their stride.
It was only on the brink of half time when a slick Norwich move saw Roberts hit the base of the post from an acute angle after some clever combination play involving Byram and Mario Vrancic down the right.
Norwich saw off the threat of a lively start to the second period from the hosts, before Farke introduced Emi Buendia in place of Zimmerman just prior to the hour mark.
And little Argentine almost had an immediate impact.
After seeing an initial pass was blocked, Buendia regained possession 30 yards from goal, played a neat bounce pass with Roberts before striking a left-footed effort against the crossbar.
Idah was then denied following a clever Vrancic pass before a rare Crawley breakaway saw Palmer denied by a smart save from Fahrmann when through on goal.
The final ten minutes saw City pile men forward in search of the goal, but it wasn’t forthcoming on what was ultimately a frustrating night for City and their travelling supporters.
Crawley Town: Luyambula, Doherty, Dallison, Grego-Cox, Palmer, Ferguson, Sesay (Francomb 87), Tunnicliffe, Bulman (c), Camara (Morais 34), Lubala,
Subs not used: Morris, Galach, Young, Nadesan, Nathaniel-George
Goals: Lubala (17)
Bookings: Camara (23), Luyambula (61), Bulman (85), Grego-Cox (90)
Norwich: Fahrmann, Byram (Aarons 86), Zimmermann (Buendia 55), Klose (c) (Godfrey 27), Heise, Amadou, McLean, Roberts, Srbeny, Vrancic, Idah
Subs not used: Krul, Leitner, Lewis, Stiepermann
Bookings: Vrancic (29)
Referee: John Busby
Kick off time: 7.45pm
Venue: The People’s Pension Stadium
Attendance: 5,109 (1,711 away)