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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
12 April 2014
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 25028
H. Rodallega 40'
Fulham now only two points behind Norwich in the race for survival. Adams' first game as manager of the Canaries ends in defeat, and sucks them right back into the relegation dogfight. That's it from me, see you next time!
90' + 3'
DEJAGAH! Oh my, he absolutely wastes that! A late counter sees him free into the box, one on one with Ruddy, but he smashes it over the bar! It matters little though, as the referee immediately ends the game, and Fulham have the points!
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Robert Snodgrass
90' + 1'
Into the first of three minutes of added time, as Johnson gets booked for a late challenge on Richardson. Hard to blame him there though, as the former Manchester United man would have been clear down the left had he not intervened with that challenge.
Now or never for Norwich. They need to start getting bodies forward in a hurry. However, there's a lack of any attacking impetus from the visiting side. On the basis of their second half performance, they don't deserve much more than what they are set to get from this game.
Poor from Dejagah. Fulham win another free kick deep in the attacking third, this one right on the edge of the Norwich penalty area. The Iranian has the option of either clipping it in or going for goal himself. Not sure which option he chose in the end, because his effort doesn't make it past the two man wall.
Finally, Diarra is allowed to depart. Even the fans recognize that he's run out of steam, and warmly applaud him off the field. On comes the Stuttgart loanee Kvist, who, in a like for like swap, will patrol the area in front of the back four during the closing period.
William Kvist Jörgensen
The hosts eschew the option of holding onto the ball near the corner flag in favour of Dejagah whipping the set piece right into the penalty area. It's not near a Fulham head though, and Olsson manages to head it clear.
Fulham win a valuable free kick near the left corner flag inside the Norwich half. Parker held onto the ball and read the expected contact from Redmond, which gave up the foul. Fulham are taking their time over this...
Dejagah doing some rare defending inside his own box, heading away a pretty well flighted cross from Redmond. Murphy, the substitute, takes control of the loose ball and sets himself for a shot, but it's not close to testing the keeper. Goalkick to come.
Play has slowed to a crawl, but Fulham are still keeping Rodallega and Dejagah in advanced positions in anticipation of a potential counter attack. Just about into the final 10 minutes here.
I have to say that Fulham are defending rather too easily against the Norwich attack. The visitors have only scored 26 goals in the Premier League all season, and on the balance of play, that tally doesn't look like being increased any time soon.
SIDWELL! Another chance for Fulham to wrap this up! Rodallega manages to flick the midfielder into shooting space just before he is clattered by Turner. Sidwell advances and strikes it, but he's thwarted by a good low save from Ruddy!
Well, it was a surprise that Holtby was chosen to be replaced instead of Diarra, given the Malian's complete lack of energy in the latter stages here. He was painfully slow to close down Hooper, and the Norwich substitute garnered space for a shot, but skied it.
PARKER! That was there for the taking! Riether and Dejagah both combine well on the right flank, and the latter cuts back a low cross to the substitute at the top of the box. He shakes his marker and sets himself up for a shot, but with plenty of the goal to aim at, he slashes it just wide!
Snodgrass, who hit the woodwork in the first half with a splendid free kick attempt, doesn't even come close there with his latest try, lashing a long range effort far over the top of the crossbar. In truth, apart from him getting tackled inside the box before slotting in, Norwich haven't really threatened in the second half.
Substitution on the cards for Norwich, as Leroy Fer makes way for Wes Hoolahan. Magath follows suit within moments, as Lewis Holtby is applauded off the field by the home fans for his role in the lone goal of the game so far. In his place comes Scott Parker to help shore up the midfield in the final stages.
A foul on Johnson by Diarra goes uncalled, and Fulham use the referee's leniency as an opportunity to break! Dejagah goes streaming down the right hand side, it's a three-on-three, but the substitute wastes the chance rather badly with a weak cutback that doesn't come close to finding a teammate.
Norwich starting to assert their authority once again after that pair of substitutions broke up the passage of play for a few minutes. Can the visitors find a way back into this match?
And just past the hour mark, Ricky van Wolfswinkel's match is ended. It was another disappointing game from the Dutchman, who came mightily close to scoring, but wasted a great chance with a horrible lack of awareness. Gary Hooper, another who is struggling for goals, replaces him.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel
First sub of the game for either side, and Kasami's lapse on that last play is his last act of the afternoon. On comes the unpredictable Iranian wide man Dejagah to take his place.
MAGNIFICENT COVERING FROM THE FULHAM DEFENCE! Kasami fell asleep completely on the right hand side, and Redmond is freed to run with the ball into the box. He touches it around the keeper, and Snodgrass is primed to stab home the loose ball, but the combination of Hangeland and Amorebieta puts him off the shot!
RODALLEGA! He's proving a real menace in the air! Fer does a slack job marking him on a corner, and the Colombian frees himself to plant a header towards the bottom corner, but Olsson, on the line, manages to knee it clear! It may have kissed the post on its way out too!
OH DEAR. I'm shaking my head here as Van Wolfswinkel completely hashes a great opening. He got in behind the fullback down the right hand side and had space to drive into the box for a shot or a cross. But he takes too long to make up his mind, and tries to play it back to the overlapping full back - only there's no one there. And right in front of the groaning Norwich fans too.
It's been Norwich as the more promising side since the first whistle, as they've held the majority of possession in the opposition half of the field. Fulham look ripe to attack on the break though, so it's up to the Canaries not to be careless on the ball.
Whittaker looks for Redmond with a flick, and the latter shows great pace to evade his marker and latch onto the ball. He whips in a decent cross too, but Stockdale rises well to pluck the ball out of the air and end the danger on the Fulham goal.
Fulham start the second half with a pair of corners, their fifth and sixth of the evening. This time, they deliver it straight into the box, and it's close to getting contact from Rodallega, but the Colombian can't sort out his body shape in time.
Here we go again!
Well, that marks an end to the first half that Magath would have wanted. Fulham started better, but were soon put under the cosh with a concentrated period of Norwich pressure. But once well worked set piece has seen Rodallega give them the advantage at the break. There's certainly more in this, so stay tuned for the restart soon.
45' + 2'
That's half time.
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Pajtim Kasami
45' + 1'
Into the first of two added minutes at the end of this opening period. Kasami becomes the latest player to be booked, but the first in a Fulham shirt. He was a little late in closing down Olsson, and was duly cautioned.
Magath has been chopping and changing the Fulham lineup on the sidelines without fail. It's compelling stuff out on the pitch as the home side look to attack and possibly sneak a second goal in the dying embers of this half. Richardson in particular looks dangerous against the freshly booked Whittaker.
Rodallega has now doubled his tally of goals for the season, and both of them now have come via Holtby set-pieces. In the reverse match at Carrow Road earlier in the season, Fulham came from behind to win. The same will be required of Norwich now if they are to avoid getting sucked into the relegation zone.
Assist Steve Sidwell
Goal Hugo Rodallega
Well, Whittaker's decision to foul Richardson looks even more costly. Holtby clips the set piece in towards the near post, Sidwell rises well again to flick it towards the opposite side, and Rodallega lashes a half volley into the back of the net!
YOU BET! THE HOSTS OPEN THE SCORING!
Yellow Card Steven Whittaker
Whittaker is the second Norwich player to get his name taken by the referee, as he rather bails out a brainless run from Richardson with a careless foul. Free kick to come, will Fulham make them pay?
The groans continue from the Fulham fans as yet another corner from the home side is played short, and never makes it into the box. Clearly this tactic is not working against the Norwich defence, but will Magath instruct his men to change it up? Rodallega has proved useful in the air from open play, while Hangeland and Heitinga are more than capable.
Norwich have clearly been the dominant side in the last few moments, but some excellent goalkeeping from Stockdale and a little bit of luck on Fulham's end has seen the scores stay level.
Some real gamesmanship going on here on a Norwich set piece. First, Fer takes a quick free kick from the edge of the box that is driven home, but the referee decides that it's taken too soon and gives him a yellow card. And after some disagreement about the distance of the ball from the wall, Snodgrass finally strikes it, and it cracks the frame of the goal on its way out!
Yellow Card Leroy Fer
STOCKDALE AGAIN! From the resulting corner, Turner's powerful header at the near post is parried by the Fulham keeper, before Johnson attacks the loose ball with some venom inside the area, but agonizingly for Adams on the bench, it flashes just wide of the far post!
SCRATCH THAT, NORWICH NEARLY SCORE! Howson hooks a cross in from the left hand side, and Van Wolfswinkel makes contact with an unorthodox, but effective volley from point blank range. It's heading in, but for a STUNNING reflex save from Stockdale!
I have to say that the Fulham midfield have stepped up their game in the last 10 minutes or so. They've bypassed the Norwich press easily enough, and are always quick to win the ball back whenever the visitors look to attack. The Canaries have barely ventured into the attacking third during this spell.
There was a real promising chance for Fulham on the counter that was wasted by a bit of indecision. Kasami had the ball and the freedom of Craven Cottage to advance down the left hand side, but he ran right into a Norwich defender instead of picking out a teammate.
It's clearly Fulham in the ascendancy now, and the home fans are responding with an appropriate rise in anticipation in the stands. They have won a succession of corners, with the most dangerous one forcing Ruddy off his line to tip away the ball ahead of the onrushing Rodallega.
Fulham certainly picking it up in the attacking third. It's Rodallega's turn to play provider, and he rises well to nod a high cross down into the path of Holtby. The former Schalke man brings it under his control, before lashing a long distance effort that deflects out for a corner. However, Fulham's short delivery from the resulting set piece comes to nothing.
That was a chance! Fulham show Norwich how the long ball game is done. A raking hoof out of defence is met by Sidwell, who nods it down expertly to match the run of Rodallega. The Colombian has a sight on goal inside the box, but executes a weak diving header that Ruddy smothers. He had the time to line up a shot there!
A long hoof from the back from Snodgrass is aimed towards Van Wolfswinkel, but Hangeland heads away the punt without any trouble. It's been a familiar pattern in the game so far, Norwich aiming high balls towards their Dutch striker, but it's been absolutely fruitless so far.
Quarter of an hour played an not really a sniff of anything positive from either side. Rodallega tries to arrest that pattern with a snap shot from Kasami's flicked header, but it's never heading on target. The Colombian has struggled for goals in a Fulham shirt, but he will need to step up if the Cottagers are to survive the drop this season.
Play has consistently broken down in the final third from both sides, with the killer ball and movement sorely lacking. Fulham in particular are struggling to work a recognized plan in attack, and Magath is already bellowing and gesticulating on the sidelines.
Heitinga puts his body on the line to make a fine block on a half volley from Howson's half volley. Replays suggest that it just may have been edging off target, but the Dutch defender was not to know that!
A real scrappy and tightly contested beginning to the game here, with both sides clearly recognizing what's at stake. There's bookings to come surely, such has been the nature of the challenges on display so far. Norwich will be happier with this passage of play, they'd take this current scoreline quite happily back to Carrow Road.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel has now officially gone 20 hours since his first and only Premier League goal. The Canaries fans are certainly right to expect more from their €10 million signing.
Bradley Johnson perhaps escapes a bit of justice there, as a hard tackle on Pajtim Kasami in full view of the referee is allowed to pass without a booking. You can feel the venom from Magath on the sidelines, he's clearly not happy with that decision!
Norwich haven't won at this stadium in over 20 years, and with the permutations on hand, I won't bet on that run ending any time soon. Anything but a win would be a disaster for Fulham, but Norwich, with a five point gap over the Cottagers and by extension, the relegation zone, will feel that a point would be far from the worst thing in the world.
Off we go then!
Both sets of players line up on either side of the centre circle, and stand arm in arm as we observe the minute's silence for the 96 Hillsborough victims. You can hear a pin drop in Craven Cottage, as the fans observe the commemorative gesture with distinction. The end of the minute is greeted by a deafening roar.
The decision to sack Chris Hughton was a risky one by the Norwich board with only a handful of games left in the season. Clearly they felt that drastic action was needed to stop their slide into eventual relegation. However, new manager Neil Adams has no first-team experience, with his only credentials being a 2012-13 FA Youth Cup trophy with the youth side.
These two sides have already met three times in this campaign alone. Fulham pulled off a 2-1 victory at Carrow Road in the reverse league fixture. It didn't get much better for the Canaries in the FA Cup, as a 1-1 draw at the same stadium was followed by an easy 3-0 Fulham win in the replay in London.
Make no mistake, it's a straight up relegation shootout today. Fulham are in 18th place, five points clear of safety. Their nearest rivals? Norwich City in 17th place, five points ahead of the Cottagers. A win for the visitors will be a massive step to safety, with only five games to go at the start of play. However, should Magath and his men take the points, then the Canaries will be thrown right back into the mixer. So, a draw then.
With Chris Hughton no longer in charge at Norwich, new manager Neil Adams enters the dugout for the first time. In his first Norwich XI, he drops Gary Hooper to the bench in favour of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, and hands a start to the returning Nathan Redmond. Michael Turner and Leroy Fer, both recovered from injury, are also deemed fit enough to start.
Hugo Rodallega, fresh off his winner in the 2-1 triumph over Aston Villa, wins the race to lead the line for the hosts ahead of Cauley Woodrow. The match comes too soon for Scott Parker though, whose recovery from injury just fell short of making the XI for this game. Therefore, Mahamadou Diarra partners Steve Sidwell in the middle of the park, with Lewis Holtby stationed just ahead of the pair.
A reminder to everyone that matters will be kicking off at 15:07 today across the Premier League. The seven-minute delay will is in commemoration the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. At 15:06, there will be one minute's silence to remember those that passed during that fateful FA cup semi-final in 1989.
NORWICH SUBS: Bunn, R. Bennett, Garrido, Tettey, Hoolahan, Murphy, Hooper.
NORWICH: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson, Johnson, Fer, Howson, Snodgrass, Redmond, Van Wolfswinkel.
FULHAM SUBS: Stekelenburg, Riise, Kvist, Parker, Dejagah, Roberts, Bent.
FULHAM: Stockdale, Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson, Kasami, Riether, Diarra, Sidwell, Holtby, Rodallega.
Hello and welcome to another round of Premier League football as Fulham host Norwich City. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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