Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Norwich City’s highly-rated teenager Josh Murphy produced a sparkling full debut but the Canaries face a Craven Cottage FA Cup replay after a 1-1 third round tie at Carrow Road.
Robert Snodgrass despatched Murphy’s cross in first half stoppage time to cancel out Darren Bent’s earlier opener but the Canaries were unable to fashion a winner despite largely dominating the second period.
Wes Hoolahan was omitted from Norwich’s matchday squad, which inevitably fuelled fresh transfer speculation following reports on Friday evening in the Midlands of a £1.5m enquiry from former boss Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa - although Norwich boss Chris Hughton confirmed afterwards he was unaware of any firm bid from the Villans.
Hughton rang the changes with Snodgrass and Martin Olsson the only starters from a New Year’s Day Premier League draw against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. David Fox went straight into the line up after his return from a three-monthloan stint at Championship club Barnsley with Leroy Fer suspended and Jonny Howson (back) and Alex Tettey (ankle) missing in addition to Hoolahan. Ricky van Wolfswinkel was included for his first start in three months after a muscular toe injury.
Michael Turner’s absence with a hamstring injury allied to a minor knock for team captain Sebastien Bassong saw Russell Martin paired in tandem with Ryan Bennett at centre half and a place on the bench for development squad prospect Adel Gafaiti, along with FA Youth Cup winners Jacob Murphy and Reece Hall-Johnson. Javier Garrido was also back in the fold deployed in front of Olsson in a midfield three for the Canaries.
Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen opted not to include Dimitar Berbatov in his plans after the Bulgarian returned from a groin injury in the New Year’s Day Premier League win over West Ham, but there was a start for former Ipswich striker Bent. Clint Dempsey was also named in the Cottagers’ line up after returning to Craven Cottage on a two-month loan deal from MLS side Seattle Sounders.
Josh Murphy underlined his intent with a confident strike on his right-foot in the opening seconds from 25 yards that flew over David Stockdale’s bar. The youngster then freed the overlapping Olsson but Stockdale gathered at his near post.
Dempsey fired the first salvo from the visitors with a vicious long range effort Mark Bunn watched over his bar. Johan Elmander then dragged a right-footed strike from the edge of the area just past Stockdale’s far post after Fox’s initial hit had deflected into the Swedish international’s path before Josh Murphy cut inside Elsdad Zverotic but drilled at Stockdale.
Fulham continued to pose a threat on the counter with Alex Kacaniklic forcing a fine fingertip save from Bunn. Van Wolfswinkel pounced on Aaron Hughes’ hesitancy to feed Olsson who cracked a right-foot shot that brushed Fernando Amorebieta and flew behind, but Stockdale comfortably claimed Fox’s corner. Bunn kept City level in the 28th minute when he denied Bent with his legs after Pajtim Kasami had threaded a pass through the centre of Norwich’s backline. Kacaniklic forced Bunn into another dive with a swerving left-foot shot off-target before City tried to pick up the pace again in the final stages of the opening period with Steven Whittaker dipping inside Derek Boateng, but rifling into the Lower Barclay after a promising surge from Snodgrass and Elmander down the Norwich right.
Stockdale then parried from Josh Murphy after Snodgrass and van Wolfswinkel played in the winger only for Hughes to react sharply to clear for the visitors. Bent headed Fulham in front in the 39th minute from seven yards out after Bunn rashly elected to race from his line in a forlorn bid to clear Chris David’s inswinging cross.
Stockdale clawed out van Wolfswinkel’s goalbound strike a minute later after the Dutchman expertly controlled on his chest before guiding a right-footer destined for the far corner until Stockdale sprung to his right. But City were level in first half stoppage time and it owed everything to Josh Murphy’s attacking intent when he committed Zverotic before drilling a low cross that Snodgrass despatched with a stooping header seven yards out which squirmed underneath Stockdale’s body.
Josh Murphy continued where he had left off after the restart with a penetrative burst and square pass Fox sliced wide. Fox returned the favour to slip in the teenager but his side footed effort drifted wide from 16 yards. Van Wolfswinkel glanced Olsson’s ferocious cross wide seven yards out after Josh Murphy and Fox again combined to slice through the Fulham midfield. Stockdale denied the Dutchman again in the 59th minute with a one-handed reflex stop to deny van Wolfswinkel who climbed majestically seven yards out to head Olsson’s out-swinging centre goalwards. Snodgrass curled a 20 yard free kick into the side netting in the 67th minute before Nathan Redmond made his entrance before play could restart for Elmander.
Redmond escaped the attentions of fellow second half arrival John Arne Riise but Stockdale got a hand to his low cross and Fulham were able to survive the penalty box melee.
City’s greater weight of possession and territory forced the Cottagers into sporadic counter-attacking forays but Norwihch switched off defensively from a visiting corner in the 77th minute only for the unmarked Dan Burn to head skywards with Bunn able to collect. Josh made way for brother, Jacob, for the final ten minutes with Jacob introduced for his senior debut after a sparkling display from his twin. Fox calmly switched the play for the umpteenth time on his return to the ranks, but Whittaker’s angled hit struck the heel of Hughes before Jacob Murphy pulled a right foot strike wide from 20 yards. Kasami’s free kick was cleared by Garrido with both sides striving to avoid a replay and van Wolfswinkel was edged out by Burn at Fulham’s near post with Garrido’s inviting centre tempting the Dutch international. Redmond drove menacingly at the Fulham backline two minutes from the end of normal time but his wayward finish drew groans from the home support.
• Norwich: Bunn, Whittaker, Martin, Bennett, Garrido, Snodgrass, Fox, Olsson, van Wolfswinkel, Elmander (Redmond 68), Josh Murphy (Jacob Murphy 79). Subs (not used): Ruddy, Hooper, Becchio, Hall-Johnson, Gafaiti.
• Goal: Snodgrass (45)
• Fulham: Stockdale, Zverotic, Hughes, Burn, Amorebieta (Riise 70), Kasami, Boateng (Christensen 70), David, Kacaniklic (Plumain 45), Dempsey, Bent. Subs (not used): Joronen, Rodallega, Dejagah, Dembele.
• Booking: Riise (foul on Jacob Murphy, 90).
• Goal: Bent (39)
• Added on time: 2 minutes / 3 minutes
• Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)
• Attendance: 21,703