McGrandles strike in vain for Paul Wilkinson's sideNORWICH City's Development Squad lost for the first time in nine Barclays Under-21s Premier League matches as they fell to defeat against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Friday.
A first half brace from Ange-Freddy Plumain proved enough to give the hosts all three points, despite a spirited Canaries performance which saw them pull a late goal back through Conor McGrandles.
The result sees City's three-game winning streak in the league come to an end, following recent successes over Manchester City, Southampton and Tottenham.
For the second time in five days, Ryan Bennett was named in the Under-21s starting line-up as he continued his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury.
Bennett was joined in central defence by trialist Dexter Peter, with his inclusion in place of Kyle McFadden the only alteration to the team which began the 2-0 victory at Spurs on Monday.
The home side began brightly, and called Norwich goalkeeper Remi Matthews into early action when he produced an excellent one-on-one stop to deny Plumain with five minutes gone.
City themselves then threatened at the other end of the pitch, with their claims for a penalty waved away three minutes later when McGrandles was felled in the box by a Fulham defender.
Having survived that scare, the hosts took the lead in the 20th minute when the dangerous Plumain collected a measured pass from Buomesca Tué Na Bangna before slotting home.
Striker Carlton Morris did his best to cancel out the opener almost immediately, only for his effort to be diverted behind by Noe Baba; Peter then heading over after rising highest to meet the subsequent set-piece.
Instead it would be Fulham who doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark, with Plumain on hand again to fire an excellent finish past Matthews from the edge of the box.
The Canaries pushed for a route back into the game before the break, but Ray Grant's 35th minute free-kick looped some way over the crossbar as the Cottagers held firm.
They continued to press following the restart; Cameron Norman's strike being comfortably gathered by Marek Rodak ahead of Morris sending wide from distance.
Swift to break forward following some City pressure, Plumain was then prevented from sealing his hat-trick just moments later by two saves from Matthews in quick succession.
Matthews then kept out a Na Bangna drive at the end of another Fulham counter with an hour played, prior to Ryan Williams skidding a speculative strike wide.
The visitors maintained their challenge, and with 13 minutes remaining deservedly halved the defecit when McGrandles collected a long pass over the top of the home defence before confidently lashing beyond Rodak.
Buoyed by that goal, City pushed hard for a leveller; coming within inches of finding it on 81 minutes as Michee Efete curled narrowly wide.
It wasn't to be however, with Fulham holding on for victory despite Emerson Hyndman being dismissed in injury-time after two bookable offences.
FULL-TIME: Fulham 2-1 Norwich City
GOALS: Cottagers: - Plumain (20, 30) Canaries: - McGrandles (77)
FULHAM: Rodak (GK); Sheckleford, Buatu, Baba, Evans, Sambou, Na Bangna, Hyndman, Williams (Della Verde, 70), O'Halloran, Plumain (Redford, 82). Subs not used: Barnes (GK), Casasola, De la Torre.
NORWICH CITY: Matthews (GK); Hall-Johnson, Efete, McGrandles, Peter (McFadden, 67), Bennett, Norman (c), Grant, Morris (Couzens, 63), Ramsay, Kelly. Subs not used: Oxborough (GK), Black.
NEXT U21s GAME AT CARROW ROAD
Everton, Wednesday April 1, 7pm
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