Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday March 22 2008
Our hopes of staying in the Premier League took a battering at a passionate St James Park this afternoon.
A goal in each half saw the hosts run out 2-0 winners on an afternoon whereby several of our relegation rivals, Reading and Sunderland, also picked up maximum points.
With us hoping that we could finally end our awful away record against a side that hadn`t won since beating us with a late penalty at Craven Cottage it wasn`t to be. In fact Newcastle, under the tenure of Kevin Keegan, who were to pick up the first win of his second spell in charge.
For the fixture, Roy Hodgson chose to go with a brave attacking formation sticking to the same starting eleven that beat Everton last Sunday.
Sadly, despite a bright start that saw a Bullard shot deflected wide for a corner, it only took the hosts six minutes to take the lead when some good close control from Mark Viduka saw the Australian drill a low shot past Kasey Keller.
Fulham, showing some resilience that has been missing earlier this season, responded well. It was that man Bullard who once again unleashed a long range shot but Harper was up to the task of saving it.
Newcastle responded well with Martins forcing a fine save out of Keller but it was to be Fulham that were to finish the half the stronger with a lot of possession that failed to produce that clear cut chance needed to get that vital equaliser.
Nevertheless, there was reason to be optimistic as the second half started even if it were the home side that looked the more likely to score. One such chance saw the industrious Joey Barton, a player who looked impressive throughout, fire just wide.
The home side then thought they had scored when a shot came off the keeper but the offside flag was up to thwart the excellently slotted home rebound.
Sadly, with only eight minutes to go, our hopes of getting level were diminished when Owen scored the second goal of the game for Newcastle.
The goal came when Geremi, who had previously delivered some troubling crosses, delivered a good ball into the danger area and Owen calmly flicked it past the stranded Keller.
At 2-0 and despite the introduction of David Healy, it was always going to be mountain we couldn`t climb to get back level.
Where we go from here I`m not too sure. Three points at Derby next weekend is an absolute necessity otherwise it`s time to start plotting routes to all those Championship grounds we`ll be visiting next season.
As for the short term, I`d suggest you follow me down the pub and sink a few pints drowning your sorrows, you know it makes sense!
Date:Saturday March 22 2008
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