Football: Newcastle again failed to win on the road as they loom perilously close to the drop zone after goals from Steve Sidwell and Hugo Rodallega gave Fulham their first win in eight attempts.
It’s been a long time since any words of dissent have been said about Alan Pardew’s reign at Newcastle, where the manager has an eight-year contract in his top pocket. Yet there is a danger that his charges may find themselves in a relegation scrap.
It was an exciting open game with both teams taking the policy that attack was the best form of defence. Equal on points at the start of game it was Martin Jol who ended the happier manager.
Fulham opened the scoring when Damien Duff capitalised on some poor defending from Fabricio Coloccini and slid the ball to Sidwell. The former Arsenal man’s effort deflected off Mike Williamson and the underside of the bar before finding the net.
A minute later and it looked odds-on that Fulham would double their lead when Dimitar Berbatov found himself with a one-on-one with Tim Krul. The goalkeeper stood his ground well to make the save. Krul would also make a another great stop with his foot from an acrobatic Berbatov effort just before half time.
Newcastle’s best chances came from corners, but when they beat Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer they found Sascha Riether in their way. The German full-back cleared off the line from a Coloccini header and a Demba Ba shot.
At the start of the second half Newcastle got themselves back into the game. Hatem Ben Arfa’s shot took a slight deflection off John Arne Riise, wrong-footing Schwarzer. The goal gave the visitors a lift and they took the game to Fulham. However in going forward they left space at the back.
The crucial goal came after 63 minutes. Damian Duff sent a left-footed free kick into the six-yard box for Rodallega to head home.
Pardew responded by throwing on another striker in the shape of Shola Ameobi in an effort to exploit the space all over the pitch.
Coloccini hit the post with a superb curling effort, while substitute Mladen Petric hit the bar for Fulham at the death as the Cottagers held on.