Hugo Rodallega celebrates another vital goal – Source: EMPICS Sport
Fulham 1-0 Norwich City
Saturday 12th April 2014
Fulham won a huge three points in the scrap for survival to make it two wins in a row for Felix Magath’s men. That win lifts the Londoners to within two points of the Canaries who have a horrible run-in and look likely to struggle to add many points to their current tally. However, the great escape is well and truly on now for Fulham. They followed up last week’s big win at Villa Park with another, but it was Norwich who had the best of the first-half chances.
The game was very frantic in the early stages. Pajtim Kasami tried his luck but Norwich goalie John Ruddy was able to see the ball drift wide. Nathan Redmond then got free down the right but his effort was parred behind by David Stockdale, who excelled throughout. Martin Olsson was released by Bradley Johnson’s through-ball but Brede Hangeland cleared. Johnny Howson’s volley deflected off Jonny Heitinga. Steve Sidwell then over-hit his cross when well placed, as the frantic nature of the game showed no signs of abating.
Ruddy was then stretched to his limit but Hugo Rodallega angled his shot just wide after Kasami had flicked on well. Rodallega would have had a very good chance to score but failed to anticipate Sidwell’s touch, only eight yards out, with Norwich’s defence breached in the 19th minute. Bradley Johnson then made a timely intervention to send Kasami’s shot spiralling over Ruddy’s crossbar. The Norwich Goalkeeper spilled Keiron Richardson’s corner but was pleased to see the ball squirm across his six yard box.
Norwich then had two good chances to take the lead but found an inspired David Stockdale in their way. First with a quite brilliant one-handed reaction save from no more than six yards in the 28th minute from Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, and then his reactions were needed again from the resulting corner as he saved well from Dutchman Leroy Fer’s header, before Howson poked wide. Norwich then won a free kick when Heitinga hauled down Fer, who was cautioned by ref Mike Dean for attempting to take the set piece quickly and roll the ball into the open goal. Robert Snodgrass eventually took the free kick and drilled it against the crossbar.
Fulham then took the lead – very much against the run of play – five minutes before the break. They won a free-kick when Richardson was brought down by Stephen Whitaker, who was subsequently booked. Rodallega swept home after a wonderful delivery from Lewis Holtby and a flick on by Sidwell. Fer tried to get Norwich back in the game with an instant riposte but Sidwell threw himself in front of his strike. Fulham then nearly made it 2-0 from Richardson’s corner but Rodallega’s header at the far post was shovelled off the line by Martin Olsson for another corner.
Snodgrass was only denied by a desperate lunge from Hangeland six yards out after more good play by Johnson and Olsson. Then Askhan Dejagah’s whipped cross saw Rodallega head over. Shortly after, Johnson slipped over deep in Fulham’s half. It could have proved costly, as Sidwell led the break with support steaming up the pitch. Michael Turner just got back to divert the ball back to Ruddy, before substitute Gary Hooper swivelled onto fellow sub Wes Hoolahan’s threaded pass, but Fernando Amorebieta’s touch diverted the ball over.
Rodallega then denied Turner a certain leveller as he cleared the centre back’s header off the line. Fulham were now almost exclusively playing on the counter, as they looked to protect their one goal lead. Ruddy did well by using his lower body to keep out Sidwell on one of these occasions. Norwich strived to turn their territorial dominance into a goal but huffed and puffed and couldn’t blow Fulham’s house down. Things could have been worse for Norwich as Dejagah smashed over in stoppage time with just Ruddy to beat. Can Fulham survive? They have a manager that has the experience to do it and with Norwich’s run-in and a manager that has one game under his belt as the head man, they have to believe they have a great chance now, being just two points behind Norwich.
Man Of The Match: Hugo Rodallega worked tremendously hard all game and got the all important goal. He could have had a couple more, but that’s two huge goals in the last two weeks he has got, and six huge points for his club. He is another person who has seen it all before with Wigan, when they survived on the final day of the season at Stoke.
Thanks for reading,