Report & reaction from Carrow RoadDECLAN Rudd made a vital last-minute penalty save as City's Development Squad staged an impressive comeback to beat Fulham 3-1 in front of 5,358 supporters at Carrow Road.
With his team leading 2-1 in the 90th minute, Rudd guessed correctly to keep out Ange-Freddy Plumain's spot-kick before Sam Kelly made sure of the points moments later with the Canaries' third in stoppage time.
Plumain had put the visitors ahead after half an hour, but Cameron Norman's header two minutes before the break proved pivotal for Paul Wilkinson's youngsters.
They dominated the second period and took the lead on 61 minutes through Carlton Morris, and were largely comfortable until the dramatic final moments.
Thanks to Rudd and Kelly, City eventually secured an invaluable three points that edges them closer to securing a spot in the Elite tier of the Barclays Under-21s Premier League for next season.
With five matches left, their fate is in their own hands and Wilkinson said afterwards: "The lads want to finish the season well. They've had a good season, they've worked their socks off since I came in but I will not let them settle for second best now, I want to keep pushing them.
"Over the whole game tonight we deserved it. We were a bit disappointed with their goal, but apart from that we had decent control.
"In the second half we didn't give them many opportunities at all, and obviously we created one or two ourselves. The last few minutes were a bit hectic, but Dec showed his professionalism and how good a 'keeper he is by pulling off an important save for us."
City named a young team, with Under-18s scholars Joe Crowe, Ray Grant, Michee Efete and Todd Cantwell all making Wilkinson's starting eleven.
Rudd was the only over-age player in the matchday squad as they looked to avenge the 2-1 defeat inflicted on them by the Cottagers in their last meeting just 12 days ago.
Norwich started well, with Conor McGrandles finding Kelly on the left after five minutes but his cross proved too heavy for Norman at the back post.
Reece Hall-Johnson, playing at right-back, was nevertheless a useful attacking outlet for the Canaries and cut inside on 17 minutes but saw his effort fly narrowly wide of Magnus Norman's post.
Larnell Cole had Fulham's first opportunity two minutes later, breaking into the box on the right side only to see his low drive nestle in the side-netting.
The visitors were growing in confidence after City's early momentum but Hall-Johnson again provided a pinpoint delivery up the other end, yet this time Jonathan Buatu beat Carlton Morris to the ball.
It was a precise cross from a wide area that helped provide the game's opening goal, but unfortunately for City it was for the visitors.
Jordan Evans whipped in a left-footed curler that Plumain, scorer of two against the Canaries in March, rose above Crowe to meet and thump a header off the underside of the bar and beyond Rudd.
City steadied themselves but although they were seeing a fair amount of the ball, they lacked thrust in the final third until the 43rd minute.
It was a smart move that led to their equaliser, with Kelly sliding a ball into McGrandles' path in the box. The Scottish midfielder then stood up a cross to the back post, where Norman was waiting.
With the time and space to pick his spot, the right winger nodded beyond his namesake Magnus to bring the Canaries level at an important time.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Fulham
Fulham started the second half well but City defended strongly and could have had a penalty when Morris fell under the challenge of Jonathan Buatu in the box.
Crowe slipped to let in Cottagers sub Jordache Walters, but the defender recovered to make a vital challenge and from that moment on, the home team took control - and two minutes later, they took the lead.
Morris was the man who edged them in front, reacting quickest in the box to first control the ball with his chest before rifling a left-footed half volley home from close range.
Rather than sit back and defend their advantage, Wilkinson's men continued on the offensive, keeping good possession and not allowing Fulham the opportunities to break that they enjoyed before half-time.
With nine minutes left on the clock, Magnus Norman parried a Morris effort from 20 yards and then City's powerful striker headed over Cameron Norman's resultant corner.
Still looking for a third, Kelly blazed over when a pass to Efete would have been the better option, and Fulham rallied in the final moments.
Just after Plumain fired a shot wide from the corner of the box, he was presented with the chance to double his tally and earn his team an unlikely point.
Efete was adjudged to have halted Ryheem Sheckleford darting run with a foul in the box, but Rudd turned the crowd's jeers to cheers with a save low to his right.
Then, to finish off a excellent second half for the Canaries, Morris exploited a huge void in Fulham's defence to release Kelly in stoppage time, and he finished confidently beyond Norman to wrap up the victory.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 3-1 Fulham
GOALS: Canaries: Cameron Norman (43), Carlton Morris (61), Sam Kelly (90) - Cottagers: Ange-Freddy Plumain (30)
NORWICH CITY: Rudd; Hall-Johnson, McFadden (c), Crowe, Efete; Norman, McGrandles, Grant (Byrne-Hewitt 88), Cantwell (Ramsay 60), Kelly; Morris. Subs not used: Killip (GK), Couzens, Boateng.
FULHAM: Norman, Sheckleford, Buatu (c), Hutchinson, Evans, Smile (Redford 65), Edun (De La Torre 76), Cole (Walters 56), Sambou, O'Halloran, Plumain. Subs not used: Barnes (GK), Casasola.
REFEREE: A. Da Costa
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