Fulham clinch vital away win with late Parker strike

Smash and grab raid pays dividends for Londoners

There was encouragement for Fulham here that went beyond the acquisition of a three vital points away from home. Having fallen behind to a deflected shot by

Gary Hooper

, Rene Meulensteen’s much-changed side came back with spirit and, having equalised through Pajtim Kasami’s free-kick, played well enough to deserve the fine late goal by Scott Parker that gave them renewed hope of avoiding relegation.

While Norwich were unchanged from the side which drew 0-0 at Sunderland in their previous outing, Meulensteen shook things up in the hope of avoiding a fourth defeat in five games since he took over from the sacked Martin Jol at the beginning of December. With Dimitar Berbatov yet to recover from a groin injury, Meulensteen brought in Damien Duff, Alexander Kacaniklic, Fernando Amorebieta and Kasami in an attempt to stop the rot. David Stockdale replaced the injured Maarten Stekelenburg in goal.


Initially, however, luck was not on their side. Shortly after Kasami drove crisply but straight at the Norwich goalkeeper, John Ruddy, Hooper let fly from about 26 yards. The low shot would have been easily saved by Stockdale but the ball struck Aaron Hughes before arcing over the Fulham goalkeeper and into the net.

Fulham came back well but Hooper, with only Stockdale to beat, could not hit the target. Nor could Fulham’s Duff a few minutes later, when Kasami’s inviting low cross appeared to require only a solid connection. But the equaliser came when Kasami’s free-kick beat Ruddy as he dived to his left.

Just when the game looked to be heading for a draw Parker picked up a half-cleared corner and from about 22 yards drove across and past Ruddy. Guardian Service