Simeon strikes to light up Carrow Road

You could forgive Simeon Jackson for wishing to wring every last drop from the most memorable year of his footballing life.

If patience is indeed a virtue then City's Canadian international has had to display limitless reserves for a large portion of Norwich's Premier League adventure. When Jackson stooped to conquer on that balmy night at Fratton Park back in May to seal promotion you would have got few takers on the 24-year-old making just one Premier League start before the year was out.

Steve Morison's summer arrival allied to Grant Holt's enduring omnipotence and revisions to Norwich's style of play in a bid to cross the Football League divide have all combined to stunt Jackson's development.

Cameos from the bench with instructions to try and alter games of Premier League football is a tough gig. Jackson's first of the season looked to have secured City another welcome away win at Wolves just before Christmas. City were pegged back in the closing stages at Molineux by Ronald Zubar's powerful close range header.

How quickly tables turn in the top flight. Jackson rose majestically between Fulham's towering oaks to despatch Elliott Bennett's cross deep into the final minute of Norwich's final act of 2011.

A story so compelling yet so implausible as to be rejected by any self-respecting script writer. Jackson's goalscoring deeds have forced him to the front of the stage interspersed with those sustained periods in the stalls that do little to convince his detractors.

The ones who feel the former Gillingham man's rise has been too steep, too fast. Norwich under Paul Lambert have had to face the same line of questioning this season.

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One senses with hindsight Jackson's arrival in the summer of 2010 from League One was designed to help establish the club as a progressive Championship entity. Few, if any, seriously considered Norwich could buck the prevailing ten year trend and jump to the Premier League in two bounds.

That they did owed everything to the collective ethos engendered by Lambert and his coaching staff – but it was Jackson who dragged Norwich over that line with nine goals in Norwich's final, pivotal eight league games of last season.

Jackson has already delivered a handsome dividend on the outlay lavished to Gillingham; his latest decisive impact perfectly captured his value to the team.

Jackson is a goalscorer. Pure and simple. Lambert may have more adaptable, more tailor-made options to operate outside the penalty box but stick him within the parameters of the opposition's area, feed him consistently high quality service, and he will deliver.

Bennett's cross drew high praise from his manager. The step over that bought him a yard or two of space on the inside was instinctive. So was Jackson's movement; lifting all 5ft 8inches of his muscular frame vertical in between Brede Hangeland and Philippe Senderos to cushion the ball onto his forehead with the requisite weight required to guide it past David Stockdale. It looked simple. It was anything but.

Jackson ran towards the Jarrold Stand with his outstretched arm pressed repeatedly to his heart. The symbolism was clear. Jackson has had his fair share of personal disappointment to digest over the past few months. But he is still standing, still rock solid in his belief that he can mix it in the Premier League. That he does belong. You can apply that metaphor liberally to the Canaries at this half way stage of the campaign.

Progress has been in fits and starts. Yet league position and points tally both testify Norwich's momentum is in a forward direction.

At times City have been outclassed in games. At times they have had to defend for their lives. At times they have struggled to break teams down. But they keep coming, keep attacking the established order with an incessant venom which has brought them goals aplenty. Every facet of Norwich's season was evident in microscopic detail against the Cottagers.

Fulham were better in the opening period. Orlando Sa's classy finish apart, the statistics may point to parity. Clint Dempsey's close range header against the bar was matched at the opposite end by Zak Whitbread's looping effort clawed away by a combination of the backpedalling Stockdale and his woodwork.

Kyle Naughton's dexterity denied Sa a second after the little known Portuguese had slipped the ball past the advancing John Ruddy. But Steve Morison was denied not once but twice by frantic goal line interventions in the space of milliseconds in the midst of City's best spell of the half.

The underlying ebb and flow of the contest painted a different picture. Fulham's counter-attacking thrusts carried a menace and a sense of purpose. Danny Murphy may not have the mobility of his youth to get around the pitch, but Martin Jol has found a system that allows his captain to flourish – sat deep in front of his defence, freed from the constraints and physical endeavour required in the centre of midfield.

Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele offer protection, the impressive teenager Kerim Frei and Sa inject youthful endeavour and energy, but it is Murphy who sets the tempo.

Fulham exerted a measure of controlled possession that grew as City's surge towards the Barclay subsided. Lambert and his coaching staff recognised the prevailing current. Hence Grant Holt's introduction.

Jon Arne Riise felt the full force within a minute of the restart. City's skipper was sending out the same message John Terry had felt at Stamford Bridge back in August when the England captain ended up on the deck.

Holt's industry and appetite to come short for service gave City an outlet that the leg-weary Steve Morison had been unable to provide before the interval.

Russell Martin began to match Naughton's attacking endeavour down the opposite flank, pinning Fulham deeper into there own half.

Anthony Pilkington's tame finish after Andrew Surman had carved the Cottagers open down the left was the precursor to a sustained burst around the hour mark. Naughton cut inside Stephen Kelly onto his favoured right, but drilled a deflected strike that clipped the top of the bar.

Pilkington was alive to the opportunity presented from Surman's quickly-taken free kick to slam another rising effort that arced just over before Naughton exchanged passes with Surman only to rifle a couple of yards wide.

The force was now firmly with Norwich. Fulham's uncertainty was palpable. Jol's side looked increasingly content to soak up pressure and raid on the counter; 'rope-a-dope' tactics that appeared more precarious with each passing minute in the face of an onslaught that has become City's stock in trade under Lambert.

Yet frustration was never far from the surface in the home ranks. Carrow Road's cauldron was eerily silent. Surman's instant touch and hit 20 yards out had Stockdale beaten all ends up only to slide the wrong side of the post.

Lambert swivelled and aimed two kicks at the cooler box stationed in the corner of his technical area. The normally placid Martin took exception to a boot left hanging by Frei in his vicinity. The festive pleasantries ended with a final warning from Howard Webb for the youngster.

Jackson entered the fray for Morison. Webb was called into action again when the Canadian international brushed past Hangeland inside the Fulham penalty box. The referee remained unmoved. Jackson then collected from Naughton and curled goalwards but Stockdale's extravagant leap overplayed the ferocity behind the strike. The former Ipswich loanee produced a more routine, but no less pressure-reducing stop, shortly afterwards to grasp Whitbread's far post header.

Holt echoed his manager when he pounded the turf inside the six yard box after failing to climb high enough to re-direct Bennett's cross. Fulham should have heeded the warning. Jackson's finish from Bennett's identical delivery finally sparked Carrow Road into life. It was footballing theatre to rank alongside any the ground had witnessed in the previous 12 months.