REVIEW: CITY 1-3 FULHAMNORWICH City suffered a 3-1 Sky Bet Championship defeat to ten-man Fulham at Carrow Road.
The visitors took the lead after just five minutes when Stefan Johansen lashed the ball home after Timm Klose had earlier ceded possession in his own half.
City didn't deserve to be behind on the balance of play, however, and dominated the ball for the remainder of the half even though Slavisa Jokanovic's Cottagers carried a significant threat on the break in a game of high quality.
John Ruddy did well to keep out Ryan Fredericks before City had their first effort on target on the cusp of half-time as Klose forced a point-blank stop from Marcus Bettinelli with a header from Wes Hoolahan's corner.
The Canaries' hopes of bringing themselves back into contention were boosted in first half stoppage time when former player Chris Martin was dismissed for a perceived elbow on Mitchell Dijks.
Just three minutes into the second half, however, City made their task doubly difficult when substitute Ryan Bennett bundled Tomas Kalas over in the box and Tom Cairney dispatched the penalty.
Johansen then spurned a fine opportunity for Fulham to push themselves further out of reach, and City struggled to take advantage of their greater numbers.
A scrappy Jonny Howson effort trickled wide as time passed for the hosts, but then a swift move on 76 minutes yielded the equaliser as Cameron Jerome nodded in Alex Pritchard's cross.
Fulham dropped deeper, Pritchard tested Bettinelli from range - but then City were hit with the suckerpunch as Floyd Ayite stayed onside, rounded John Ruddy and tapped in to inflict on the hosts a first defeat at Carrow Road since December 16.
HOW THEY LINED UP
Unsurprisingly, Alan Irvine kept faith with the same starting eleven that surged to a 7-1 win over Reading last time out.
Hoolahan and Pritchard each notched a brace that day and against the Cottagers, Hoolahan once again started off the left and Pritchard behind Nelson Oliveira.
Alex Tettey made his 150th Canaries appearance, while the substitutes bench also remained unchanged with the likes of Steven Naismith, Jerome and Yanic Wildschut ready to be called upon.
City Academy graduate Martin led the line for Fulham having hit eleven goals this season on loan from Derby County.
A positive start to the second half was required from City if they were to press home their man advantage.
The tone was set, however, when Howson picked up a needless booking just prior to Cairney scoring from the penalty spot, edging Fulham further in front.
For the spot-kick, Bennett had allowed Czech defender Kalas in front of him and after the Cottagers man fell to the ground, Andrew Madley had little hesitation in awarding the spot-kick.
WHAT IT MEANS
The result left City in tenth place in the Sky Bet Championship, 12 points off the top six with just four games remaining.
GOALS: Canaries: Cameron Jerome (76) - Cottagers: Stefan Johansen (5), Tom Cairney (pen 48), Floyd Ayite (89)
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Pinto, Martin (c), Klose (Bennett 45), Dijks; Tettey, Howson; Ja. Murphy (Jo. Murphy 64), Pritchard, Hoolahan (Jerome 57); Oliveira. Subs not used: McGovern (GK), Whittaker, Naismith, Wildschut.
FULHAM: Bettinelli; Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Malone; Johansen, McDonald; Ayite (Kebano 90), Cairney (c), Aluko (Piazon 76); Martin. Subs not used: Button (GK), Parker, Cyriac, Sigurdsson, Sessegnon.
REFEREE: Andrew Madley
City visit Preston North End in the Sky Bet Championship on Easter Monday, with tickets on general sale HERE.
To view the Canaries' upcoming fixtures in full, click HERE.