0 users online

Fulham 0-1 Newcastle: Cottagers torture continues

last updated Saturday 15th December 2007, 7:41 PM

Fulham 0-1 Newcastle soccernet

Lawrie Sanchez
Lawrie Sanchez
coming under pressure

Referee Howard Webb's controversial decision to award Newcastle a stoppage-time penalty plunged Fulham into despair as they went down 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
The home side had been seconds away from the draw they needed to clamber out of the Barclays Premier League's bottom three but were doomed to defeat when Webb adjudged that Elliot Omozusi had fouled Alan Smith.

Joey Barton despatched the spot-kick to make sure Omozusi's 19th birthday was well and truly ruined.

The home fans were convinced Webb had blundered as Smith did not have control of the ball when the challenge came in, with James Milner then going on to fire in a shot that was saved.

But Webb was adamant and the travelling supporters returned north in celebration.

The result gives Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce another lifeline as his side moved into the top half of the table and intensified the pressure on Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez, who has presided over just two wins this season.

Match Stats Fulham Newcastle
Goals 0 1
Possession 53% 47%
Goal attempts 10 6
On Target 5 4
Corners 7 6
Off-sides 3 5
Saves 6 7
Fouls 17 10
Yellows 0 1
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet
The first 45 minutes were desperately poor and gave little indication of the drama that was to come.

Newcastle had shaded what passed for entertainment, with Barton twice regretting he had not found the net for the first time since leaving Manchester City in the summer any earlier.

Newcastle forced a flurry of early corners, all delivered by skipper Geremi, and one saw the England midfielder lose his marker right in front of goal, only to fail to make the crucial connection.

His second attempt, on the quarter hour mark, was much better as he did everything to meet Milner's back post delivery from the left. His header had power and was directed downwards, but home goalkeeper Antti Niemi had anticipated and dived low to his left to save.

Fulham's finest first-half moment had already come and gone by then, with the recalled David Healy seeing a snap-shot from the edge of the box pawed round a post by Shay Given.

The Republic of Ireland stalwart was at the middle of a brief flash of controversy not long afterwards when he slid to collect a through-ball and quickly found himself leaving his penalty box before letting go of the ball which satisfied Webb if not the home fans.

The rest of the half saw both sets of forwards trying to pick up whatever scraps came their way.

Fulham's Clint Dempsey fired a snap-shot wide and Charles N'Zogbia needed to be alert to stop Healy getting on the end of Hameur Bouazza's cross, but Newcastle were troubled by little else and created even less at the other end.

The lethargy of both sides was a surprise however, especially as the home side knew they were kicking off in the drop zone.

Sunderland's point shared with Aston Villa had brought that about and Wigan's 5-3 victory over Blackburn meant they had moved to within a point of the Cottagers.

Sanchez had attempted to shake things up beforehand with three changes from the side that had lost 3-0 at Everton, with Bouazza, Healy and Carlos Bocanegra restored to the starting line-up.

Bouazza was the man most likely to make things happen and within seconds of the restart had beaten two opponents and fired in an excellent cross. But despite his best efforts Dempsey was unable to get the touch needed to turn it goalwards.

Healy was alert to get to a hopeful head forwards before any of the Newcastle defence, but his first-time effort from outside the box was straight at Given.

Newcastle made a change just before the hour mark when Geremi was taken off in favour of Emre.

The Turk almost broke the deadlock after Healy had clumsily felled him with a free-kick that found the head of Nicky Butt, who had managed to get goal side of his marker. Again the header was good, but Niemi's positioning was faultless and he made the save.

Dempsey was only just too high with a header from a corner at the other end and with 15 minutes left on the clock, Sanchez threw on target man Shefki Kuqi in place of Steven Davis.

Newcastle defender David Rozehnal got on the end of Milner's free-kick after Mark Viduka had replaced the disappointing Obafemi Martins.

But the Czech's connection from almost in front of the far post was neither a shot nor a pass to set up Viduka and pretty much summed up the game.

There was a late scare for the visitors when Bouazza robbed Habib Beye, but the recalled Claudio Cacapa bravely headed behind as Kuqi thundered in to meet the cross.

Barton forced another save from Niemi before finally beating the Finn from the spot to settle a disappointing contest.

Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez believes Newcastle's last-minute penalty winner sums up the Cottagers' season.

The Londoners will now spend a week in the bottom three ahead of the visit of Wigan, who moved to within a point of their relegation rivals with victory over Blackburn earlier in the day.

Rookie defender Elliot Omozusi's 19th birthday was ruined when he was adjudged to have fouled Alan Smith in the box and Joey Barton made no mistake from the spot to give Newcastle a rare away-day success.

Sanchez said: 'The penalty was symptomatic of our season. I keep saying it but I think it is true - we keep playing well right to the moment when we lose.

'With five minutes to go I was disappointed we were only going to get a point. And I was even more disappointed when we were cruelly beaten.

'That has been the story of our season to date, I'm afraid.'

Sanchez admitted referee Howard Webb had been within his rights to punish Omozusi however.

He said: 'There was contact, without doubt. The ball had been passed by the time it was made and when the shot went off and was saved he has dragged it back and given a penalty.

'I can't really argue with the penalty and I thought he (Omozusi) had been man of the match up until then.

'We have got Wigan next week and myself and the team have got to prove we are good enough. We are in the bottom three and fighting for our lives.'

Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce was also convinced the penalty award had been correct.

He said: 'It was a penalty, yes. The challenge was made, he completely missed the ball and took the man over. The referee was there on the spot right in front of it and gave the right decision.'

Barton's penalty enabled Newcastle to celebrate a victory away from St James' Park for the first time since the opening day of the season, when they beat Allardyce's old side Bolton.

Indeed, it was the first time they had kept a clean sheet on the road for a year and the win lifted them into the top half of the table, a minimum requirement as far as the fans are concerned.

Allardyce said: 'Points are all-important in the Premier League. We dealt with what Fulham had to offer and waited for our opportunity. We got one at the very end and got three very valuable points.

'We have played much, much better than this and lost, particularly in our last away game when we played Blackburn off the park. Today we probably didn't deserve to win but they certainly didn't deserve to, that's for sure.'

Fulham: Niemi, Omozusi, Hughes, Stefanovic, Bocanegra, Davies, Murphy, Davis (Kuqi 75), Bouazza, Healy, Dempsey.
Subs Not Used: Warner, Ki-Hyeon, Smertin, Baird.

Newcastle: Given, N'Zogbia, Rozehnal, Cacapa, Beye, Geremi (Emre 59), Butt, Barton, Milner, Smith, Martins (Viduka 77).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Jose Enrique, Edgar.

Goals: Barton 90 pen.

Att: 24,959.

Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

Source soccernet
Since 1998
"It's been updated!"