Match Report: Fulham 2-1 Norwich City (Norwich Fan's Perspective)
Craven Cottage reignited bad memories for the Canaries as it was at this ground just six years ago where Norwich slumped to a humiliating 6-0 defeat which led to their relegation from the Premier League.
The away fans were left silenced early on as it took less than two minutes for Fulham to take the lead. Debutant Ryan Bennett played a misplaced pass, cut out easily by the Fulham defence, meeting Bryan Ruiz who curled an effort with his left foot that John Ruddy could only parry, with forward Dempsey pouncing in, putting his side ahead from close range.
It took just 13 minutes for the home side to double their lead and the in-form Dempsey was involved again, this time with an assist. The American international found himself in plenty of space in the middle of the park and opened up the Norwich defence with an inch perfect ball to Duff who latched on with a fantastic finish with his favoured left foot beating the out stretched Ruddy.
The Canaries best chance in the first half fell to Jonny Howson. Fulham gave the ball away in a dangerous position with Wes Hoolahan taking advantage. He found the feet of Howson who could only blaze wide – the midfielder, who has enjoyed his spell in the first team, should have done better.
Fulham continued to dominate and constantly threatened Ruddy's goal. Just before the end of the half, Dempsey again was involved; however could not beat the post. Moussa Dembele met the rebound but defender Bennett made a heroic block, keeping his side just two down heading into the break.
Half time 2-0.
The second half started much the same as the first and Fulham nearly finished off the game through Alex Kacaniklic. The midfielder worked hard down the left hand side and fired a shot towards goal. Ruddy came to his side's rescue again with a fingertip save, forcing the ball to strike the woodwork.
Norwich started to get into their stride and enjoyed plenty of possession in the Fulham half. Steve Morison knocked down for Hoolahan, who curled an effort towards the quiet Mark Schwarzer, who saved his effort, and the oncoming Andrew Surman's strike was blocked.
With 20 minutes remaining, Aaron Wilbraham replaced Steve Morison, and it did not take long for the striker to pull one back for the Canaries. Hoolahan, who had a fantastic afternoon, ran from the half way line, passed to Wilbraham, who cut inside and got his shot away, which deflected past Schwarzer in the 77th minute.
Despite their efforts, it was too little too late for the Canaries and Fulham's first half dominance was enough to lift themselves above Norwich in the league on goal difference. The Yellows can take positives from their second half performance - they dominated possession and played some great football. Despite Ryan Bennett's early nerves, the defender more than made up for it with some fantastic last ditch tackles and he looks a very promising player.
Norwich welcome an in-form Everton side at Carrow Road on Saturday who hope to maintain their lead over City rivals Liverpool. Earlier in the season, points were shared at Goodison Park in a 1-1 evenly matched draw.