Paul Lambert - Sloppy start at Fulham left Norwich City too much work to do

Paul Lambert conceded his men were caught cold by Fulham's early onslaught at Craven Cottage.

City were breached twice in the opening exchanges as Clint Dempsey and Damien Duff ruthlessly cashed in on Norwich's hesistancy.

Fulham also hit the woodwork in each half in the Cotttagers' concerted bid to extend their lead prior to Aaron Wilbraham's late lifeline during Norwich's most productive spell of the contest.

Dempsey pounced inside two minutes for his 19th goal of the season when John Ruddy parried Bryan Ruiz's initial strike before the American's slide rule pass set Duff away to coolly lift past City's number one. Lambert was hard pressed to explain why the Canaries were second best from the kick off.

'If I could answer that, I'd go and do that lottery tonight,' he said. 'I thought the first one we conceded was poor, we let it bounce and they came through.

'That was poor but the response to that was excellent. We probably never defended the right way at the beginning and I don't think you can do that at this level of football.

'You can't give teams two goals head start. It's a mountain to climb from there but the response was absolutely terrific, the way we went about it and tried to retrieve the game. In the second half I thought the lads were excellent.

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'They were poor goals on our team's behalf. When you're away from home and you lose a goal really early, it's the worst start you can get – and then you lose another one not long after. We gave ourselves a lot to do after that.'

Simeon Jackson's half-time arrival had the desired effect to reinforce a greater forward threat.

'I felt even in the first half we had a lot of the ball. We just never really hurt them as much as we wanted. Simeon came on and gave us another attacker,' said Lambert. 'They're a good side, there's no two ways about it. It's not that long ago they were in a European final. I'm pretty sure it's there to see we gave them a run for their money.

'You've got to hang in. The great thing for me was we never capitulated, which can happen when you've lost two goals as early as that, and being a young team as we are. But the football we played at times was excellent.'

City's defeat in west London allied to weekend wins for relegation-threatened trio Bolton, QPR and Wigan served only to dent an otherwise healthy points buffer between the Canaries and those currently in the bottom three – a measure of the real progress made in Lambert's eyes.

'We've had a fantastic time, we really have,' he said. 'We'll try to finish the job but we've put ourselves in a position through what's happened previously to be where we are now and we'll just keep going.

'I think everybody thought we were going to be one of the teams in it, to be honest. The lads have surpassed a lot of things we put in front of them and hopefully we'll be okay.

'I never set myself or the team any targets, really. We just try to win as many games as we can and try to play the way we did today. We want to finish as high up as we can, that's what we'll try to do with the team. If you can finish high up – first and foremost stay in the league – but if we can go higher, then we'll keep on vying for that.'