Norwich City’s Under-23s fell to a 1-0 defeat at Motspur Park with Luca De La Torre's goal the difference in City's final game of the season.
City dominated large spells of the first half and found themselves unlucky to go into the break level. The best chance of the half fell for Adam Idah, when Josh Coley’s weaving run ended in a square ball to the striker. But the Irishman’s shot was saved by the legs of Luca Ashby-Hammond mid-way through the first half.
Fulham started the second half on the front foot and took the lead five minutes after the re-start when Luca Da La Torre got on the end of a loose ball before placing into the back of the net and that goal proved to be the difference despite City's best attempts in the final 10 minutes.
Billy Johnson returned to Canaries XI, starting for the first time since February when City came up against Nottingham Forest in the PL Cup. Bilal Kamal and Alfie Payne both started on opposite flanks in the full-back positions, whilst Akin Famewo started his second game for City alongside Louis Lomas.
Louis Thompson featured again on his return from injury and partnered Saul Milovanovic in the centre midfield position. Goal scorers last time out Josh Coley and Isak Thorvaldsson started on either wing. Carlton Morris started up-top with the ever-present Adam Idah.
The first chance of the game fell for Fulham’s Matt O’Reily, when the midfielder was set up on the edge of the City box, but the Fulham number four saw his shot hit a Canary defender before going out of play for a corner, with the following corner-kick coming to nothing.
Despite City dictating possession, it was Fulham who proceeded to capitalise on a few misplaced passes. The Cottagers nearly took the lead 10 minutes in when La Torre was set free on the right, but the forwards shot at the near post was met by Johnson who got down quickly to keep out the powerful low strike.
Moments later Coley weaved his way into the Fulham box before seeing Idah in plenty of space to the right, the midfielder squared the ball to the striker before the Irishman’s low effort was saved by the feet of Luca Ashby-Hammond.
Ten minutes later Norwich could and should have taken the lead. Kamal received the ball on the right before drilling a low cross to the near post which was met by Morris. However, the striker was unable to sort his feet out which meant he could only toe-poke the ball wide of the Fulham goal.
Both teams had spells of pressure as the half went on and settled down after a hectic start at Fulham. Both teams were struggling to create clear cut chances, with Payne’s cross come-shot the closest either side came in the first 35 minutes. Payne’s curling cross was deflected by a Fulham defender before the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the Cottager’s goal.
At the end of the half Thorvaldsson looked to be through on-goal after getting played beyond the Fulham defence, but the strikers footwork let him down as the ball rolled on to the Fulham ‘keeper after being in a promising position.
Fulham started the second half on the front foot and took the lead five minutes after the re-start when Luca Da La Torre got on the end of a loose ball before placing into the back of the net giving the hosts the lead after a dominant opening five second-half minutes
In the opening 15 minutes of the second half City struggled to get on the ball, with Fulham keeping the Canaries under constant pressure looking to add to their tally. Pierre Fonkeu was brought on with just under 30 minutes to play to give City a breath of fresh air up top.
With 20 minutes left to play Fulham nearly doubled their lead when Moritz Jenz jumped highest in the box to get on the end of a floated corner from the left, but the centre-back could only direct his header wide of Johnson’s goal.
Five minutes later Kamal nearly caught Ashby-Hammond out after a miss-placed cross looked destined for the back of the net. Kamal’s dipping cross caught everyone by surprise when it started heading towards goal, unfortunately for City Ashby-Hammond was there to catch just in time.
After bringing on some experienced players Norwich started to look more comfortable mid-way through the second period, but Fulham remained in control despite the City press.
Inside the last 10 minutes of the game City came so close to pulling back level. Idah’s driving run down the left saw his shot parried by Ashby-Hammond before Kamal picked up the loose ball and picked out Fonkeu. The Belgian took a touch before placing the ball narrowly past the far post.
City continued to push looking for that equaliser, but Fulham held on with O’Riley’s strike separating the teams at full-time
City’s Starting XI: Johnson; Kamal, Payne, Lomas, Famewo, Milovanovic, Thorvaldsson (Fonkeu 63), Thompson, Idah, Morris, Coley (McIntosh 71)
Unused Subs: Rose (GK), Jones.