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Norwich City and Fulham cancelled each other out in a goalless draw in their Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road.
While a point will edge both sides closer towards safely, there was little creative spark. New Norwich signing Luciano Becchio, in for injured captain Grant Holt who suffered a back spasm in the morning, headed a couple of half-chances wide. Even the return for Dimitar Berbatov from a hamstring injury could not inspire Fulham, with a 25-yard effort from Steve Sidwell at the start of the second half about the best of the visitors’ few chances.
Berbatov missed last weekend’ s defeat at Manchester United and soon needed more treatment after he was caught in the face by high boot from Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson and had to go off to the changing room to have stitches in a blooded nose.
Norwich almost made their man advantage count as Elliott Bennett’ s run down the left found defender Javier Garrido in the left side of the penalty area. The left-back pulled the ball back to Becchio but his first-time shot lacked pace and was straight at Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. At the other end, Damien Duff saw his effort blocked by Michael Turner.
After 14 minutes, Norwich broke quickly through Wes Hoolahan. The Republic of Ireland midfielder carried the ball to the edge of the Fulham area before knocking it out wide to the right but Alex Tettey’ s low cross through the six-yard box was hacked clear.
Berbatov’ s clever flick released Duff on the overlap down the Fulham left but his angled shot was deflected over the crossbar. Norwich defender Russell Martin, captain in place of Holt, planted a free header wide from Johnson’ s deep ball into the Fulham penalty area.
Emmanuel Frimpong, on loan from Arsenal, was booked for tugging back Robert Snodgrass and referee Howard Webb had the yellow card out again when Bennett chopped down Hugo Rodallega as Fulham looked to break after they had cleared the free-kick. Becchio headed a deep right-wing cross from Martin over the bar as the game remained goalless at half-time.
Fulham started the second half brightly, with midfielder Sidwell testing Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn with a 20-yard effort. Norwich’s Sebastien Bassong took the full force of Bryan Ruiz’ s strike in his face as the visitors stepped up a gear.
The hosts finally produced some pressure of their own as the hour-mark passed, with Snodgrass again the creator down the right before Bennett crashed in a goalbound effort that was blocked by Brede Hangeland.
Fulham made a change after 64 minutes when Frimpong was replaced by Urby Emanuelson, on loan from AC Milan. Both sides made a substitution with 15 minutes left as Mladen Petric replaced Rodallega for Fulham, while Norwich sent on Canada forward Simeon Jackson, as Bennett was withdrawn.
Johnson stabbed wide from the edge of the box before Kei Kamara, on-loan from MLS side the Sporting Kansas City, came on to replace Becchio for the closing stages of the match. However, the Sierra Leone player’s main contribution was to clatter into Schwarzer at a corner as the game fizzled out.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton:
"We have to look at the positives. Certainly we are a lot tighter as a unit and are obviously not conceding the goals.
"It's a home game today and we were hopeful. We had some disappointing news this morning with Grant Holt, who pulled out with a back spasm, which hurt us a little bit. We had to change our plans and thoughts going into the game.
"It's a home game so we're disappointed that we perhaps weren't as good in that final third as we would have liked, but we were solid against a really good Fulham team who have got quality in the team.
"As soon as the game finishes you are looking at other results around and you hope that results went for us. They haven't been too bad, but it has to be about our own performances.
"We now have a two-week break and we look forward to coming back refreshed for another home game against good opposition in Everton."
Fulham manager Martin Jol:
"If you can't win, it's always good to get a clean sheet and a point.
"Last year we were 1-0 up and then in the third minute of stoppage time they scored, so that was a draw as well.
"In the first half I thought we were the better team, controlled the game. Then you should score one or two goals, but we didn't.
"The point is okay, but I thought we should have had three points. I felt we were the better team but lacked a bit of momentum up front. If you are the better team you should exploit that and create more chances.
"Sascha Riether was ill yesterday, Chris Baird this morning. I wanted to play Urby Emanuelson, but that would have meant that we had three players playing for the first time. At this stage of the season, that is not what you want.
"That is why we can be pretty satisfied. We had to play a different side.”
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|04 May 2013||v Aston Villa (H)|