Norwich 1-3 Fulham: Cottagers keep up play-off pressure
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 15/04/17 6:47pm
Fulham boosted their Sky Bet Championship play-off chances by seeing off Norwich 3-1 at Carrow Road - after playing the entire second half with 10 men.
The Cottagers were leading 1-0 on the stroke of half-time when striker Chris Martin was sent off - on the ground where he made his name - for elbowing Mitchell Dijks.
That left the visitors facing a tough fight to defend Stefan Johansen's early opener, but a penalty just after the break from Tom Cairney made that task a good deal easier.
Substitute Cameron Jerome did pull one back for the hosts but Fulham had the final say late on with a goal from the excellent Floyd Ayite, keeping them in the thick of the battle for a top six finish.
Norwich, who had beaten Reading 7-1 the previous week, were soon on the back foot this time around as Fulham took the lead from their first attack. Martin's shot was blocked by the home defence but the ball bounced out nicely for Johansen to thump the ball into the bottom corner from some 20 yards.
After a bright start from the visitors Norwich gradually began to get a foothold in the game, but clear-cut chances were few and far between. The hosts had to wait until the 44th minute for their first genuine opportunity, with goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli needing to produce a brilliant reflex stop to keep out Timm Klose's header from a Wes Hoolahan corner.
Fulham had barely threatened themselves as the half wore on, and they shot themselves in the foot by getting themselves reduced to 10 men.
With just seconds to go until the interval, Martin went up with Dijks for a high ball and caught him with a flying elbow, with referee Andy Madley immediately brandishing the red card. The Cottagers were furious - but they were soon smiling again in the opening minute of the second period.
Ryan Bennett, who replaced the injured Klose at half-time, was adjudged to have hauled back Thomas Kalas at a free-kick and Cairney blasted home to give the 10 men some breathing space.
Johansen then miskicked when in a good position - and from then on Norwich laid siege to the Fulham goal. The visitors defended heroically however and it was not until the 77th minute that the Canaries managed to get a goal back.
A neat move ended with substitute Jerome heading home to set up a grandstand finish.
Norwich had their chances but Fulham held firm and restored their two-goal advantage in the 89th minute when Ayite kept his cool in a tight situation in the six-yard box, side-stepping Ruddy and walking the ball into an empty net.
Norwich caretaker boss Alan Irvine:
"Fulham are a good team and deserved what they got today. After going down to 10 men they were extremely well organised and defended really well to get the result they wanted.
"Our players deserved praised for the way they performed last week (in a 7-1 win over Reading) and I think they deserve some criticism today. We prepare them the same way for each match and you are obviously hoping for the same level of performance in each match, the level the players are capable of.
"We started both halves slowly, although I thought there was a decent response in the first half. We got the ball into their final third plenty of times but the final pass, cross or finish just wasn't there.
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic:
"I am very proud of the way they performed today. This is a very tough place to come to - they have a lot of good players and had only lost here three times all season. We knew we had to be well organised, we needed to be at our best, and we also had to be very strong mentally, especially after the red card.
"We played to a good level, everyone worked very hard, and we got the result we wanted. You could see the desire of my players out there, they showed the fight needed to get a result at places like these.
"After 42 games we are in a good position to challenge for the play-offs and everyone is determined to finish in the top six. As you saw today there will be no surrender."