Sunday, January 5, 2014

Norwich City 1 Fulham 1

After 5 years of being in East Anglia and never making the trip to Carrow Road, mainly due to ticket availability and prices I have now been there twice in the last month. The FA Cup offered us the chance to snap up cheap tickets and meant that we would be able to make it to a game at a time of year when the local clubs struggle to get anything put on. The opponents were Fulham and although both teams rang the changes for a game that both probably could have done without there was still a lot of quality on show.

The game started off promising enough with the Canaries peppering the Fulham goal with Martin Olsson and David Fox causing Fulham all sorts of problems on the wing, especially the hapless Zverotic who was getting in all sorts of problems. Elmander and Josh Murphy, on his full debut for the club, came close but Norwich weren't causing enough problems in the box. Record signing Ricky Van Wolfswinkel was back in the team after a 3 month lay off and the Canaries will be hoping that he improves his match fitness and bravery in front of goal. You can't help but think that Norwich would have put the match to bed earlier if Hooper had started or if Grant Holt had still been at Norwich. That said David Stockdale in goals for the visitors also played his part in the game and helped keep Norwich at bay. Inevitably, Fulham caught Norwich on the counter attack and a player that I along with the Norwich fans don't like - Darren Bent - scored with a header after a mistake by Mark Bunn in goals for the Canaries. Norwich still had the wind in their sails and continued to press and Van Wolfswinkel was kept out by Stockdale and Josh Murphy fired just wide before Robert Snodgrass scored an equaliser with a tap in, in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

The first half had been pulsating at times and the second half was going to find it hard to live up to the pace and energy shown in the first half. It didn't live up to it and was played at a more pedestrian pace. Fulham seemed wise to Norwich's wing trickery and and let them come at them while defending the box. Stockdale was also impressive and his save from Van Wolfswinkel on 67 minutes was one of the best saves I have seen live. Fulham were just having to rely on sporadic counter attacks. The game was crying out for the introduction of Gary Hooper, but he didn't come on and the game finished 1-1.

Neither teams probably wanted this game and both of them will want a replay even less, but that's what they have got. Both teams can take heart tough from some good performances by young players; Josh Murphy and David Fox for Norwich and Ange-Freddy Plumain for Fulham.

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