Steve Wigley celebrated being confirmed as Fulham’s permanent under 23 coach with a win over Norwich as the Whites moved to the top of PL2 Second Division thanks to two second half goals at King’s Lynn tonight.
Norwich, managed by former Fulham defender Alain Neilson, were more than a match for their visitors in the first half with Tom Dickson-Peters spurning a glorious one-on-one chance before referee Robert Whitton waved away strong penalty appeals after Jon Rowe looked to have been bundled off by the returning Idris Odutayo. Fulham gradually got their precise passing going with Sonny Hilton shooting into the side netting and Jay Stansfield denied by Dylan Berry as the Canaries keeper made immediate amends his poor pass.
Rowe sent an ambitious overhead kick fractionally wide from a free-kick before Stansfield blazed over from Hilton’s cross at the other end. Fulham nearly went behind through a self-inflicted wound when Taye Ashby-Hammond’s slack clearance found its way to Tom Dickson-Peters, who did brilliantly to dart away from retreating defenders, and sidefooted against the post. Wigley’s charges finished the stronger – they had a goal chalked off for offside and Hilton appeared set to put Fulham in front but saw his goalbound finish scrambled off the line by Jon Tomkinson.
The Whites continued where they left off after the interval. Luke Harris had a drive well saved by Berry before Terry Ablade fired over from eight yards after excellent play down the left from Ziyad Larkeche. Adrion Pajaziti almost sensationally curled home from 20 yards but the Kosovar midfielder’s finish went agonisingly wide. They eventually went ahead with eighteen minutes to play when Hilton’s free-kick was turned into his own net by Josh Giurgi despite Berry’s best efforts to keep the ball out.
Substitute Jean Pierre Tiehi nearly doubled the lead on his first appearance since rejoining the club but his powerful header from a fabulous Marlon Fossey cross cannoned against the crossbar. Berry then did brilliantly to spread himself and thwart Hilton from six yards, but Fulham finally made sure of the three points in the last minute when Conor McAvoy headed home Stansfield’s cross at the far post.
NORWICH CITY UNDER 23s (4-3-3): Berry; Giurgi, Earley (Shipley 45), Tomkinson, Warner; Khumbeni (Brooke 66), Clarke (Hutchinson 88), Springett; Dickson-Peters, Rowe, Kamara. Subs (not used): Rose.
FULHAM UNDER 23s (4-2-3-1): T. Ashby-Hammond; Fossey, Larkeche, McAvoy, Odutayo; Pajaziti, Harris (D’Auria-Henry 83); Hilton, O’Neill (Williams 74), Stansfield; Ablade (Tiehi 70). Subs (not used): Adams.
BOOKED: McAvoy, Williams, Tiehi.
GOALS: Giurgi (o.g. 72), McAvoy (90).
REFEREE: Robert Whitton.