Kieran Richardson believes the manner of Fulham’s late success at Norwich on Boxing Day could prove a real ‘turning point’ in their fight against relegation.
Rene Meulensteen’s side trailed to a deflected strike from Gary Hooper, but showed commendable spirit to work their way back into the game, recording only their second win in 53 away league games where they have conceded the first goal. Pajtim Kasami equalised with a free-kick and, after a spellbinding second half that swung from end-to-end, captain Scott Parker clinched the win with a powerful finish from 22 yards.
Richardson, who retained his place in the side after scoring against Manchester City on Saturday at the expense of John Arne Riise, wants to use the tonic of that late victory to lift Fulham away from their precarious league position.
We’re in the bottom three and, of course, we know that isn’t good enough. We’re the only people that can change that, though, it’s up to us to turn things around. In recent weeks we’ve seen a big improvement and, for me, we’re starting to head in the right direction.
If you look at the manner of the win at Norwich, I think that’s fairly evident. We played really well, especially when you consider the fact that we went 1-0 down. That showed a lot of character, because there have been times this season where we’ve let our heads drop in that position.
But we responded with a lot of conviction, and having played some really positive football in the first half, we were rewarded when Pajtim brought us level with a clever free-kick. The second half was a little bit scrappy, but we did enough with Scott scoring the winner right at the end. To be fair, though, we were the better side throughout – had we not won the game I think we could have considered ourselves extremely unlucky.
Richardson was keen to praise Parker’s contribution both in terms of scoring the winning goal and providing the composure necessary to keep Fulham’s head high despite a difficult start.
Scott is a great guy and a great player – he’s someone that always leads by example,” Richardson added. “He sets high standards out on the pitch and has made a real impact since he came in over the summer. He covered every blade of grass; it was one of those games for him – he was everywhere.
He was involved in a lot of our moves going forward and, at the same time, he broke up a lot of their play when they had possession in our half too. His all-round contribution was massive and he capped it with a fine strike from the edge of the box.
But I think from front to back we played really well and caused Norwich problems throughout. We created a number of chances and probably should have had more than the two goals to show. I think you could see how much the second goal and the win meant to us; what it meant to everyone involved. We ran over and celebrated with those on the bench, because we win and lose together.
We’ve been through some difficult spells this season, so this was a real lift. We have a great team spirit and that makes a big difference. We have a good bunch of lads at the club and René and the rest of the coaches are fantastic too. That togetherness will be crucial in terms of moving forward.
Richardson has called on his colleagues to take the momentum from what he describes as a crucial win over Norwich into another testing away trip at Hull, who currently sit in 12th place after pushing Manchester United all the way on Boxing Day.
We’re taking one game at a time but, make no mistake, the result against Norwich was a big win for us. We knew that it was a good chance for us to get something, and we did. It’s one of those games that could prove to be a turning point. We’ve entered an interesting phase of the campaign, because there are lot of points to play for in a very short space of time.
Hull are having a good season and we saw how close they ran Manchester United at the KC Stadium. They’re 12th in the table, but just four points separates them and us. We’re going up there with the intention of closing that gap and if we play the football we know that we’re capable of we have a good chance of getting the result.
We want to build on the win at Carrow Road and take that into the next fixture. Momentum is important in this game, and it’s true what they say – winning does breed confidence. If we can put a good little run together, then I think we have every chance of enjoying a decent second half of the season.