Super-sub Barry Hayles scored a last-minute as Fulham came from behind to beat Norwich City at Carrow Road and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
The Canaries made the stronger start to this contest with Maik Taylor making a magnificent save to deny Shaun Carey on opening goal on twelve minutes. Fulham somehow failed to score with their first real opportunity midway through the first half when Karl-Heinz Riedle saw a header parried out by Andy Marshall, only for Paul Trollope to twice fail to find the net from the rebound.
The home side soon punished Paul Bracewell’s side for their poor finishing. Norwich were given a helping hand when Kit Symons inexplicably headed Darren Eadie’s corner back towards his own goal. Steve Finnan did manage to keep out of his own goal, but Adrian Forbes gleefully grabbed the opening goal from close range. Fulham’s most flowing move came just before half time when Chris Coleman and Trollope started a fine attack full of probing passes but Geoff Horsfield’s attempted chip was bravely blocked by the Norwich defence.
The visitors probed patiently without reward in the second half until Bracewell introduced Hayles and Stan Collymore for Horsfield and Rufus Brevett, switching to a 4-3-3 formation in search of an equaliser. Fulham were incensed when Hayles was denied a penalty six minutes after coming on when he was taken out from behind by Curtis Fleming and the mood of the travelling fans was hardly improved when Riedle was flagged incorrectly offside after racing onto a raking ball from Coleman.
Two minutes later, though, the German World Cup winner proved his predatory instincts before converting a half chance in the midst of a melee after Coleman had flicked on a Hayward corner. Suddenly, the momentum was all with Fulham. Collymore squeezed a shot just wide of the post and, after Iwan Roberts had blazed over the bar during a rare Norwich attack, Hayles stole all three points for the Whites in the final minute of normal time.
The former Bristol Rovers striker did brilliantly to cushion a ball on his chest and resist the temptation to go down under a couple of wild challenges, striding into the penalty area and beating Marshall with a lovely, left-footed finish. Fulham survived five minutes of stoppage time to secure what could be a very important victory.
NORWICH CITY (3-5-2): A. Marshall; Jackson, Kenton, Fleming; Carey, Russell, Forbes (Sutch 78), L. Marshall (Llewellyn 78), Eadie; Roberts, Dalglish. Subs (not used): Green, Mackay, Milligan.
GOAL: Forbes (26).
FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett (Coleman 53), Melville, Symons, Coleman; Hayward, Trollope, Clark; Horsfield (Hayles 63), Riedle (Davis 86). Subs (not used): Hahenmann, Morgan.
GOALS: Riedle (73), Hayles (88).
REFEREE: Geoff Cain (Seaford).