In which we head once more to Fulham, much like Charlie Brown taking another run at Lucy’s football. Cameron Huggett finds some small rays of hope in the predicable result.
Before a ball was even kicked, there were two pretty big mitigating factors impacting the expected atmosphere (xA? No, absolutely not). Firstly, we came into this game off the back of a humiliating loss. Secondly, there are bogey teams and unlucky grounds, then there is Norwich playing Fulham away at Craven Cottage.
Our abysmal record at this particular ground contains results that live in infamy within Canaries folklore, the details of which I dare not utter here (but you know, of course, I’m talking about 2005), with our last win coming in 1986. The result is that this match had all the ingredients to fill your average Norwich fan with a nauseating mixture of horror and dread.
All that being said, the atmosphere in the packed out away end was actually really quite good. Results aside, it’s nice to have a feeling of positivity creeping back into the fanbase.
For the home fans’ part, a mid-week match against Championship opposition was not enough to pack out the ground, and the atmosphere suffered as a result. Moreover, Fulham gives me the overall impression of a Rugby Union club that decided to give football a go. This is by no means a criticism, in fact it makes for a really pleasant experience, but it is hardly conducive to a cauldron-like atmosphere.
A much changed line-up, as one would expect given the display at Plymouth and the quick turn around between matches this week. But a good opportunity for some of the younger and newer players to clock up some minutes in a yellow shirt.
We scored a goal at Craven Cottage. The limbs in the away end, despite the losing position, were testament to the significance of this particular treat. What’s more, despite the changes, and a pretty strong opposition side, we actually didn’t look too bad in this match. Hopefully this a performance we can build on in the league.
There’s no getting away from it – we waste a lot of chances. This match alone seemed to see shot after shot fizz past the post, and a number of good deliveries come to nothing.
There’s a big, Josh Sargent-shaped hole in the squad. Not only was he becoming a dependable and versatile goal scorer in his own right, but his creative flair also helped to create chances for his fellow forwards. Without someone stepping into his shoes, we could have a significant barrier to progression this season.
Off the field, the bright idea to schedule Fulham, Brentford and Chelsea to all play at home on the same night. The subsequent lack of access to Putney Bridge tube station made getting back to Liverpool Street a stressful experience.
I would be remiss to not talk about Borja Sainz. To come through with a goal against a tough opponent on your first-team debut is quite the achievement, and hopefully bodes well for things to come.
Special mention should also go to the Fulham fan who wrote ‘Where is Norwich?’ on the back of one of those signs asking for a player’s shirt, which he then proudly displayed to the away end. Top marks for creativity and effort.
Well, put the Champagne on ice; lifting our third League Cup will have to wait another year. There’s always the League and FA Cup to look forward to.
The silver lining is that I must agree with pretty much everyone else who has ever been to Craven Cottage and say that it is really is a lovely ground, in a lovely part of London, with some very lovely supporters. Sorry for the lack of tactical analysis, but this has honestly been my main takeaway.
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