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Fulham 2-1 Newcastle Premiership Matchday 16 1213 Daily Mail

last updated Tuesday 11th December 2012, 9:07 PM

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Laura Williamson at Daily Mail

Fulham (1) 2 Newcastle (0) 1

Alan Pardew passed two years in charge of Newcastle United, but it will not be an anniversary the manager looks back on with fondness.

Goals from Steve Sidwell and Hugo Rodallega gave Fulham their first three points in the Premier League since October, but the gloom only increases for Newcastle, despite Hatem Ben Arfa scoring on his return from injury.

It may yet get worse, too.

Newcastle must play Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal before the turn of the year.

This was a game between two sides hovering only four points above the relegation zone before kick-off.

Newcastle seem to have paid the price for not strengthening their squad in the summer and have not won a Premier League game away from St James' Park since May.

Fulham, after a tremendous, free-scoring start, have begun to miss the influence of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele - particularly the USA international's goals.

Jol's side had gone more than five hours since scoring until Sidwell's 19th-minute strike and even that was a little fortunate, as the midfielder's right-foot shot took a heavy deflection off Mike Williamson and cannoned in off the underside of the bar.

For all Dimitar Berbatov's style and grace, the Bulgarian striker has not found the back of the net for a month.

With a pair of black tights under his kit and long shirt sleeves pulled over his gloves, Berbatov gave the decided impression he was not vaguely bothered about ending Fulham's scoring drought.

But this is all part of the act and the delight, isn't it? The 31-year-old has others to track back for him in this Fulham side and his disgust at missing two excellent first chances was evident.

He wasted an excellent opportunity to double Fulham's advantage after a poor back pass from Cheick Tiote left Fabricio Coloccini stranded.

Berbatov rather ambled towards the area with the ball at his feet, before prompting a fine save from Tim Krul with a right-foot shot.

The Newcastle goalkeeper then came to his side's rescue after 30 minutes when Berbatov rifled a shot on target after Krul could only parry Sascha Riether's cross.

Coloccini saw a powerful header cleared off the line by Riether two minutes later and the German right-back blocked a Demba Ba shot just before half time, but Newcastle could have found themselves in much deeper trouble at the end of the first 45 minutes.

Only a covering tackle from Danny Simpson had prevented Alexander Kacaniklic opening the scoring after just 60 seconds.

The visitors were continually exposed by Fulham's width - especially down the right - and willingness to mix the odd long ball over the top with creative guile.

The manner in which Hugo Rodallega was allowed to chest down a Damien Duff cross in the box after 17 minutes provided particular cause for concern.

Pardew's 4-3-3 formation had left Newcastle exposed in central midfield, with Sidwell and Chris Baird picking off passes comfortably and protecting their back four.

The Newcastle boss was forced into a change after his side went behind.

Hatem Ben Arfa, making his first start for a month since recovering from a hamstring injury, slotted back into a midfield four.

It worked much better, particularly when either of the front two - Papiss Cisse and Ba - dropped a little deeper.

Vurnon Anita sent a 25-yard effort over Mark Schwarzer's goal and then Ben Arfa took it upon himself to embarrass the Fulham goalkeeper with a shot that found the roof of the net after 53 minutes.

It seemed speculative and it took a deflection off John Arne Riise's outstretched right leg, but Fulham players were culpable of standing off the Frenchman and were duly punished.

Jol's side have thrown away 14 points from winning positions and it quickly looked as if would be a similar case here as Kacaniklic blasted a shot wide and Sidwell drew another good save from Krul.

But then Duff, booed throughout the match by supporters of his former club, curled in a beautiful free-kick from the right after 63 minutes.

Rodallega eluded Coloccini with ease to give Fulham their precious win.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic (Dejagah 62), Berbatov, Rodallega (Petric 86).
Subs not used: Etheridge, Richardson, Senderos, Karagounis, Diarra.

Goals: Sidwell 19, Rodallega 63.

NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Anita (Marveaux 86), Tiote (Bigirimana 86), Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 72), Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba.
Subs not used: Harper, Ferguson, Tavernier, Perch.

Goal: Ben Arfa 54.

Attendance: 25,270.

Referee: Lee Mason.

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