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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007, 19:11 GMT
Fulham 0-1 Newcastle
By Jonathan Stevenson

Obafemi Martins (right) tries to find a breakthrough at Fulham
Obafemi Martins (right) tries to find a breakthrough at Fulham
Newcastle won a woeful game at Fulham thanks to an injury-time penalty from midfielder Joey Barton.

Elliot Omozusi was adjudged to have brought down Alan Smith in the Fulham box and Barton stepped up to coolly slot home his first goal for the club.

The Magpies scarcely deserved their win after a shocking game that was devoid of any creativity or quality.

Habib Beye flashed a header wide for the visitors and David Healy had two close efforts before Barton struck.

It was cruel on Fulham, but they deserved little for their unwillingness to attack and they are now in the Premier League's relegation zone.

With Magpies boss Sam Allardyce afforded some breathing space after a hard-fought draw with Arsenal and a come-from-behind win over Birmingham, Newcastle started confidently enough.

Charles N'Zogbia gave a textbook example of how to start an attack from left-back before the ball was cleared, though from the corner Beye's deflected header flashed inches wide.

606: DEBATE

Fulham hit back when Healy tested Shay Given with an impudent chip from the edge of the box, but the Northern Ireland striker perhaps should have taken the ball closer to goal.

The visitors fashioned another decent headed chance soon after, James Milner crossing under pressure to the back post where Barton forced Antti Niemi to save low down.

That was in the 15th minute. The less said about the rest of the first half the better, for it was truly shocking.

Any hint of an attack was snuffed out by both sides' inability to pass the ball to someone on their own team.

Most of the 24,959 present could barely even bothered to boo the teams off at the interval, such was the general feeling of indifference at what had just been witnessed.

To be fair to Fulham, when they came back out they did at least try to make a game of it.

Hameur Bouazza sent in a dangerous cross from the left that had to be cleared, before Healy took advantage of some defensive hesitancy to test Given low down from 20 yards.

Newcastle fashioned a half-chance of their own when substitute Emre punted a free-kick into the six-yard box, but Nicky Butt's tame header allowed Niemi to pounce.

The game was just too scrappy to settle - every time the ball went up in the air there were six or seven players waiting for it to come down so they could fight for possession.

The game did not deserve a goal and the late drama was unfortunate on Omozusi, who was supposed to be celebrating his 19th birthday.

But his challenge on Smith was clumsy at best and Barton punished him in clinical fashion.


  • Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez:
    "The first half wasn't much of a game but we came out and dominated and controlled it.

    "I thought we were by far and away beter team and going into the last 15 minutes (Newcastle boss) Sam Allardyce wanted a draw, but I wanted a win.

    "It's a cruel defeat for us. We're in the bottom three now and we have got to beat Wigan now."

  • Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce:
    "It was a crucial, crucial victory, it wasn't pretty, we didn't play well but we were very resilient and nullified them.

    "The late winner shows that we give our all right to the end. They are very fit now and it shows we can win late on.

    "We were always in the game and I said to my players that they were struggling at home and we can get at them."


    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).

    SEE ALSO
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