‘Seven up - thanks to the Drinkell late show!’ - The last time Norwich City won at Fulham
- Credit: Archant
A llok back at what happened on January 1, 1986 - the last time Norwich City won at Craven Cottage.
Kevin Drinkell's late, late show kept Norwich City at the top of the Second Divison at Craven Cottage.
Just as it seemed it was going to be an unhappy Ncw Year's Day for the Canaries. the City top scorer nipped in with a last-minute winner to give his side their seventh successive league victory.
With Portsmouth winning 3-I at Wimbledon in the morning, the Canaries knew that only victory would safeguard their position at the top - but until that last gasp winner such an out-come looked extremely unlikely.
On a slippery and unpredictable Fulham pitch. they only rarely threatened the home goal, even though they controlled almost all the first-half play while creating no more than a couple of half chances. Things livened up considerably after the break. although sadly for the hardy Norwich fans receiving an undeserved soaking at the open air Cottage End, most of the play was heading in the opposite direction towards the City goal.
The incessant heavy sleet, making the pitch ever more treacherous, did not help City's cause, but the thousand or so visiting supporters soon forgot the cold and wet when Drinkers' 15th goal of the season - a simple header - found its way into the net with the final seconds ticking away.
However. Chris Woods was once again the true hero of this performance. He made the kind of save from on-loan striker Paul Fishenden's volley that only a handful of this country's 'keepers could have produced. and generally kept the home side at bay just when they looked their most dangerous during the second half.
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The experts say that successful sides are those who can still win while slightly off colour. By that yardstick Norwich can look back on this match with some satisfaction and fee! confident of a happy 1986, ending hopefully with First Division soccer.
There were few causes for New Year festivities among the sparse crowd in a first half notable only for Fulham's enforced substitution of injured left-back Gary Elkins after 34 minutes. City were always in command, but clear-cut opportunities were restricted to a long-range effort from Drinkell, well saved by home 'keeper Gerry Peyton, and a point-blank chance which fell to Mendham.
Oddly, Fulham's unfortunate reshuffle before half-time seemed to work in their favour and in the five minutes before the break. both Kenneth Achampong and John Marshall might have given them the lead as defensive lapses allowed both clear paths to goal.
Fulham's supremacy continued into the second period. Clifford Carr almost caught Woods out with an awkward bouncing shot two minutes after the interval, and just six minutes later the excellent Brian Cottington almost found a way past the seemingly invincible Canary 'keeper. He burst through the Norwich defence, before just managing to win a 50-50 tussle with Woods, but full-back Ian Culverhouse was perfectly positioned to clear.
The upturn for Norwich seemed to coincide with the 74th-minute substitution of striker Wayne Biggins by John Deehan. With his first touch of the ball the City striker won a corner and he almost scored with his second touch - an over-head kick which finished only inches over the bar.
But the killer blow was to come in the very last minute, just after Donnellan had joined Peter Scott in the referee's book for a foul on Michael Phelan. From Dennis Van Wyk's free kick, skipper Dave Watson headed a perfect ball back to the inrushing Drinkell, who rose superbly to head home the winner from close range.
• Fulham: Peyton, Cottington, Elkins (Barnet, 34), Scott, Hopkins, Parker, Marshall, Achampong, Fishenden, Carr, Donncllan.
• Norwich: Woods, Culverhouse, Van Wyk, Bruce, Phelan, Watson, Barham, Drinkell, Higgins (Deehan, 73), Mendham, Williams.
• Referee: Mr. M. L. James.
• Attendance: 7,463