Norwich 1-1 Fulham
December 31, 2011 by staff
Portuguese striker Orlanda Sa scored the opening goal of the game in the first minutes after great work from Moussa Dembele, but the hosts eventually responded.
Paul Lambert’s team had more than their fair-share of chances, but they couldn’t take any of them and were left to rue poor finishing, until Simeon Jackson headed in in injury time to secure a point.
After the disappointing 2-0 defeat at home to Tottenham in midweek, Lambert made four changes to his team and lined up with a different formation too.
In defence, former Liverpool and Sevilla man Daniel Ayala made only his second Premier League start for the Canaries, replacing the injured Ritchie De Laet, while Kyle Naughton returned to the starting eleven after being ineligible for the visit of Spurs.
In midfield, Bradley Johnson replaced Andrew Crofts and Anthony Pilkington came in for Grant Holt to make a five-man midfield.
Fulham, however, made no changes at all from the team that drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day with there only being one difference to bench too as Matthew Briggs dropped out for Damien Duff.
The match started with a quick tempo and the Norwich fans were their usual noisy selves, but Fulham soon gave their own fans something to shout about as Martin Jol’s side took the lead inside five minutes.
Moussa Dembele eased past Johnson in the midfield before slipping a good ball through to Orlando Sa, and before knocking the ball away from Ayala, he shot from the edge of the box, giving John Ruddy little chance.
The visitors almost doubled their lead a matter of moments later, as again it was Sa causing problems, this time coming in from the left, but his effort was cleared off the line brilliantly by Naughton.
After that, Norwich began to dominate, feeding off the energy from the stands and creating a number of opportunities.
The first to have a chance was Johnson, arriving at the penalty area late and side-footing Surman’s cut-back just wide, but a deflection gave them a corner, the first of four in quick succession.
From the second of the following corners, Zak Whitbread went close first as he saw his header tipped on to the cross bar, and soon after, Morison had two great opportunities, first headering at Stockdale before poking the rebound straight at the goalkeeper again.
With the first-half getting closer to halftime, Fulham probably should have got their second as a ricochet in the area saw the ball drop kindly for Dempsey, but his header came back off the bar.
The visitors managed to keep a hold of the lead into the second half as whatever chances Norwich had were wasted, but there was a renewed sense of optimism for Norwich after the break as Grant Holt replaced the poor David Fox.
The first chance of the second half came ten minutes in and Norwich could’ve equalised, but for a great John Arne Riise block.
Morison did brilliantly to get on the end of a pass behind Stephen Kelly before flicking the ball to Wes Hoolahan in the centre, but despite being tackled, the ball fell for Anthony Pilkington, but the winger’s attempt was put behind by the Norwegian left-back.
Moments later, Norwich went even closer, but the crossbar denied them as Naughton cut inside Kelly, before shooting from a tight angle, but after beating David Stockdale, it clipped the bar and went over.
Despite a number of chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Norwich fans were beginning to get extremely frustrated, particularly at the passing in their side’s midfield as it continued to be far from acceptable after the break.
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