Some new players in the starting XI that are not ideal. Bettinelli is down with an injury so Button starts, and Norwood is in for the injured Kevin McDonald.
City XI vs Fulham: Gunn; Martin (c), Zimmermann, Franke; Wildschut, Reed, Husband; Vrancic, Maddison; Watkins; Jerome. #ncfc— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) August 5, 2017
Norwich were without many of their star players including Klose, Pinto, and most importantly, Alex Pritchard.
Fulham started quickly with Ayite and Johansen having good chances to score. Johansen possibly should have looked to curl the ball to the back post, but he decided to unleash a stinging effort, which went a bit wide. Button then pulled off a series of quality saves in the next ten minutes. Fulham took the lead in the 24th minute with Ayite getting behind the Norwich defense, and drilling a cross off Russell Martin, which the found its way past Gunn into the net. Just after that, Fredericks raced past James Husband and only a great save by Gunn denied him of his first competitive goal for the club. Ayite and Aluko both had great chances to score, but neither could find the back of the net. No further action after those chances. We went into the break up 1-0, and definitely on the front foot of the match. Some significant problems being cause by players getting behind Sessegnon, and nobody closing them down, but the rest of the team has been great.
Norwich started the second half well, creating in a couple chances culminating in a Maddison free-kick which flashed just over the bar. After that, we had our own chance in the form of Ayite with a brilliant curling effort that went inches over the bar. Kebano then turned Wildschut, and curled the ball off the far post. Watkins had another chance to level the game, but Button saved his effort. Aluko had two chances to score, but both would have been quite spectacular goals if scored. Norwich made two changes in quick succession, Murphy coming on for Wildschut, and Oliveira coming on for Jerome. Fulham countered by swapping Cisse for Norwood, and Kamara for Ayite. Oliveira almost was immediately involved after a Tim Ream slip, he put in a glorious ball that was just past the Norwich attacker. Tom Cairney was the first player in the book for a bad tackle on Maddison, but the free-kick came to nothing and Fulham cleared. In the 69th minute, Ryan Sessegnon was removed, and Dennis Odoi came on. Kamara has looked quick and strong so far, just as Jokanovic suggested. Kamara then had a great chance after a fabulous pass from Aluko, he twisted and turned before sending his effort into the side-netting. Kamara then received another pass and flashed the ball acrossed goal, but all we could get was a corner. Appeals from Norwich for a handball were not given, upon review it clearly struck Odoi's arm. Norwich had a free-kick, but Oliveira was optimistic if he thought he could beat Button. Harrison Reed went off in the 80', and Wes Hoolahan came on. Oliveira had another good chance, but he could not get enough power on the shot to beat Button. Kamara unleashed a curling effort after a good spell from Fulham, it would have been a goal of the season effort if it went in. Stefan Johansen got the second yellow card of the game after a block on Oliveira. Sone Aluko almost turned it into his own net after a freekick, but Fulham were punished for missing chance when Oliveira leveled the game on the 88th after a chipped ball over the top, and no offside was given. Cairney sent an ambitious effort over the top of the bar as time winded down, and the game ended at 1-1.
A game we should have won, but Norwich taught us a lesson which we will take into the rest of the season. We were undoubtedly the better team, but we were not clinical enough with our chances. Ayite was fabulous today, and Kebano should have come off not him. Kamara needs to get a full 90 minutes against Reading, because he looked very good in his short spell on the pitch. Norwood was fantastic, and if we would have had McDonald to come on for him, we would have won. Johansen had a tough day, as did Cairney, and I believe Cisse should have replaced Johansen. Overall, a good point against a strong team, we will get better from this game, and I expect us to have a great season.
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