Half time: Fulham 0 Newcastle 0
Fulham 1 Newcastle 0
75 mins: Niclas
Jensen's goal-line clearance from Jean-Alain Boumsong set Fulham away on
the counter-attack towards the Hammersmith End.
Brian McBride's pass released substitute Collins John down the
left. His shot was parried by Shay Given, only for the loose ball to arrive in front of fellow replacement Steed Malbranque, who was able to knock it into the goal. 0-1
Graeme Souness said:
"He (Ian Pearce) admitted to my players that he handled it. We
feel hard done to today. With the players we had
available, we gave a good account of ourselves, especially in the second
"From the UEFA Cup quarter-final last season onwards, it's been one
problem after another because of injuries.
Bramble went over on his ankle in training and Stephen Carr, having had a
hernia and then damaged his stomach on the other side, is feeling a
general aching in that area, which is also a concern.
thought the game was scrappy in the first half, but we found another gear
in the second half and, overall, feel hard done to.
"A manager is there to get as much as possible out of the players
he's working with. I think I'm doing that. I don't think I'm doing
anything terribly wrong.
like to think of myself as someone who keeps going - and I will keep
going. When in this job, you have to believe things will turn for
Chris Coleman commented:
"It was a terrible tackle (from Celestine Babayaro). It was nasty and over
the top. Tomasz (Radzinski) has got four stud marks right down the front of his shin
"For leg-breaking challenges, you should be sent off - especially at
a time when some players are being sent off for breathing in the wrong
was a massive result for us. I thought we dominated the opening 45 minutes
and were unlucky to enter half-time level. They came at us immediately
after the break and huffed an puffed at the end.
we held strong and it was a game where I always thought one goal would win
it. Both our squads have taken a fair bit of damage in terms of
injuries. It makes it difficult, and I feel sorry for Graeme.
going to do? The players he's got injured are not squad players - they are
It's now 270 minutes since Newcastle last scored away from home.
Has there even
been a season of contrasting emotions for the away fan? A trio
of joyful excursions but no less than nine miserable Magpie
Three second half goals at Ewood, the same at the Hawthorns, two in each half at Upton Park but nowt else: blanks at
Arsenal, Bolton, Pompey, Wigan, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Spurs and
Toon at Craven Cottage - last 10
2005/06: Lost 0-1 No scorer
2004/05: Won 3-1 Ambrose, Kluivert, Ameobi
2001/02: Lost 1-3 Speed
1983/84: Drew 2-2 Beardsley, Keegan
1982/83: Drew 2-2 McDermott, Varadi
1981/82: Lost 0-2 (League Cup)
1979/80: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1978/79: Won 3-1 Connolly, Withe, Shoulder
1967/68: Lost 0-2 No scorer
1966/67: Lost 1-5 Pop Robson
We've also faced Fulham twice in recent seasons at Loftus Road:
2003/04: Won 3-2 Robert, Shearer 2
2002/03: Lost 1-2 Shearer
Premiership debut for Alan O'Brien, who becomes the 119th
player to represent us in this league, the fifth new face this
season (not counting non-combatant Craig Moore) and the sixth
Republic of Ireland-born player to appear for us in the Premiership
(joining Given, Carr, Jimmy Crawford* and the other two O'Brien's,
Andy and Liam).
* born in the USA but played for Eire U21's.
Of the trio of Dubliners we signed on, only O'Brien has made it
through, Stephen Brennan and Joe Kendrick having been unable to break
out of the reserve side before being released.
It's getting harder and harder to write
these damn things when there are so many counter-attractions on offer, like
watching wind farms or tuning in to the test card.
Actually getting into the mood to finger one's keyboard is
one thing - resisting the temptation to fill the white space by repeatedly
hammering down on the F, U, C, and K keys quite another.
Anyway, to business.
The immediate post-match reaction was to just cut and paste the previous
week's Mansfield FA Cup report, remembering to edit out the happy ending
bit. However a quick re-read of that rubbish confirmed that it was nowhere
vitriolic enough to be applied to this Thameside twaddle.
We once again took part in a tepid
Premiership encounter with nothing to recommend it to the uncommitted and
scarcely much more to hearten those well past the ability to make sensible
£35 for this one makes it £161 in admissions alone at Arsenal, Spurs,
Chelsea and Fulham this season for no goals and no points. Thank the
Almighty for the miracle of Upton Park.
Our best guess is that
Souness was desperate not to lose here - and for Boa Morte (the ghost of
transfer windows past) not to turn in a match-winning performance and feed
easy lines to sports writers.
The last time that goalkeeper Anti Niemi faced us was a day short of a
year ago, when he conceded goals from Bramble and Shearer.
And more recently, the likes of Leeds, Norwich and Cardiff have kept him
supple by repeatedly requiring him to bend down and retrieve the ball from
the Southampton net.
Today however, Chris Coleman could have played my aunty
Nelly in goal for the first 75 minutes with no fear of damaging his
Whatever early nerves Niemi might have displayed on his return to the
Premiership were eased considerably by our total disinterest in testing
him out, the five man midfield ploy that served us so well at nearby
Stamford Bridge (final score 0-5) being employed here again.
The net result of that this time was that N'Zogbia
and Luque joining Bowyer in lurching forward ineffectually.
Meanwhile, Shearer was nowhere to be seen and balls were regularly hurled
forward to where we once may have had someone with pace and purpose
playing for us.
Souness could point to a similarly smothering ploy having worked before
when Niemi faced us - back in September 2004 at St.Mary's.
We beat Southampton that day 2-1 thanks to some good defensive midfielder play, an og forced by
a pull back from a striker with pace (Bellamy) and a long-range effort
from a defender not afraid to shoot (Carr.)
Today though none of those things were seen - and of course Carr became
the 152nd Newcastle player this season to have broken down after returning
from injury. Grrrrr.
Nobody in our side was in the mood to be positive, play percentages or
have a go at trying to make something happen. Instead the ball was moved
around like a hand grenade with the pin out, on the occasions when we
proved capable of passing it in the vicinity of each other.
No doubt it'll all be our fault though for travelling ridiculous distances
to shout encouragement at the beggars. The travelling goldfish bowl effect
Yes, there were some good workmanlike performances including a committed
showing from Clark against his old club, that threatened to get out of hand
as he scurried across the midfield trying to make every tackle.
Bowyer though hardly played like a
man who had been training his nuts off during an enforced three week
absence, straining every sinew on the off-chance we'd flog him.
Was this not the promised land for him
though? Born within the sound of car alarms?
We seem to be in the minority by questioning his effort in this game, but
if that really was him trying, then it's time he packed in.
We certainly didn't have to contain the
Cottagers for the first twenty minutes to silence the crowd - they were
virtually comatose before kickoff. Yet we were content to be dictated to.
One can only wonder what the scouting report from last week's FA Cup
defeat here at the hands of Orient read, when the League Two side caught
Fulham cold and never let them settle. "Get there early for some nice
looked to be playing into our hands here by putting Collins John on the
bench, a man whose pace helped destroy us on Tyneside just over a year
ago. But no, we remained as inept as ever.