Norwich should not be underestimated, a good team with a good manager and we should have expected a tricky game. In the end we got one, Norwich’s assortment of Russells and Bradleys and Wesleys eventually powering their team to a well deserved equaliser in stoppage time. Another late goal? Well yes, but the point was really that we failed to put the game away while dominating it. While you’re only a goal up you’re vulnerable.
The first half was excellent from Fulham. Orlando Sa belted a serious first goal for the club from outside the area, giving those who have written him off on the basis of little or no evidence something to think about. We might have had more, too, Kerim Frei wasting the best chance when he brought a fine save from the ‘keeper but could have removed any doubt by using the free man to his right; Dempsey hit the bar with a header from close in. Our play was tidy and controlled, superior.
The second half changed, though. Norwich threw on Grant Holt and went about things with much more purpose. David Stockdale had another good game and Hangeland and Senderos were impressive in front of him, but long before the end there was a feeling of hanging on. The substitutions: Etuhu for Murphy and Sidwell for Sa (Dempsey going up front) didn’t really help: we somehow needed to reverse Norwich’s momentum and perhaps some pace up front (not that we had this available) would have helped us out. In any event, they pushed us back, back, back, and a goal seemed about as certain as a goal that hasn’t yet been scored can seem.
Which is a muddled way of saying that we got a good point from a game that we could have easily won or lost. Given our excellent start we might have expected to stroll off with all three but these points all add up and we end 2011 on a reasonably high note. The transfer window now swings open and much excitement presumably lies ahead. Martin Jol’s team is taking shape, and while we may be some time away from seeing it at its best, there is a sense of improvement around the club.
Happy New Year!