Fulham 1 Newcastle 0: Old boy Duff sinks toothless Toon

03 February 2011 03:15

  If the Toon Army spent Monday on tenterhooks as Andy Carroll flew to Liverpool and a ?35million cheque came the other way, Wednesday was spent cheering on a drab display by their team as Damien Duff gave Fulham victory.

With Carroll gone, spring-time on Tyneside could be unusually dull this year. No run at a European place and not even a descent towards relegation to stir the emotions. And away trips without the thrills that Carroll brought will hardly get them going.

While Fulham were not exactly scintillating either, the three points that moved them into midtable became another positive landmark in their improving season.

Match-winner: Damien Duff (centre) celebrates his strike for Fulham

Thegame's decisive moment arrived in the 67th minute. Danny Murphy'sclipped pass over the top fell beyond Jose Enrique and left Duff toatone for two misses earlier in the second half by drilling the ballunder the body of the advancing Steve Harper.

MarkHughes' team are now 12th and within four points of the top eight - aremarkable transformation from their fall into the bottom three onBoxing Day.

Hughessaid: 'We probably went a little bit closer to the edge than we wantedto at the time but I always felt when we got our attacking players backwe would be fine. And we will.'

Feel the pain: Ameobi suffered a suspected fractured cheekbone in the Fulham defeat

Thepresence of a banner with 'Judas Carroll' smeared on it was proof thatthere was at least a handful of Newcastle fans among the 5,000 packedin behind one goal who believed the club's version of events on manicMonday rather than their fallen local hero.

One-on-one: Duff shoots past Newcastle keeper Steve Harper to score

Theydidn't even have the consolation of cheering on a new signing, so latewas the Carroll deal concluded. A promised ?35m transfer kitty formanager Alan Pardew cannot be spent until the transfer market opensagain and even then, the task of finding a man who can be a black andwhite icon could prove frustrating.

MATCH FACTS FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer 7; Pantsil 6, Hughes 6, Hangeland 7, Baird 6; Duff 7 (Davies 87min), Sidwell 6, Murphy 7 (Gera 87), Dempsey 7; Johnson 5 (Kakuta 71, 6), Dembele 6. Subs not used: Stockdale, Salcido, Greening, Kamara.

NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Harper 7; Simpson 5, Williamson 6, Coloccini 6, Enrique 5; Barton 7, Nolan 7, Guthrie 6, Gutierrez 5; Ameobi 5 (Ranger 13, 6), Best 6 (Lovenkrands 72, 6). Subs not used: Krul, Campbell, Perch, Ferguson, Richardson.

Booked: Simpson, Nolan, Guthrie.

Man of the match: Clint Dempsey.

Referee: Mike Jones 6.

The matter in hand is ensuring that a promising first half of the Barclays Premier League is not wasted.

Theymight have gone behind inside the first 10 minutes when an AndrewJohnson cross from the right was struck just too forcefully for eitherMoussa Dembele or Clint Dempsey to reach.

Theother notable incident of a quiet opening was a blow to the head ofShola Ameobi from the elbow of Steve Sidwell in an aerial challengewhich led to the Newcastle striker being substituted.

Pardewsaid afterwards: 'The diagnosis isn't good. He has an indent in hischeekbone which suggests he may have fractured it. He's been veryimportant to us and it affected our game plan.'

Otherwise,the match continued to amble along, each side having their share ofpossession in the other's half without threatening. Goalkeepers MarkSchwarzer - restored to the Fulham side after returning from Asian Cupduty with Australia - and Steve Harper were more interested bystandersthan participants.

Schwarzerdid at least have to scramble across his goal in the 21st minute when aJoey Barton free-kick appeared to be curling and dipping towards thefar post until Sidwell intelligently flicked it wide with the back ofhis head.

Aerial battle: Fulham's Brede Hangeland (second right) feels the force from Mike Williamson

The two Dannys- Simpson and Guthrie - were both booked for fouls before Dempsey'sshot on the turn fell away from Harper's goal as the first halfstumbled to an unsatisfactory conclusion.

Withthe match sparking into life with two Duff misses in the opening fiveminutes of the second period, Leon Best then headed a Guthrie crossover the bar at one end, before Dempsey's left-foot drive at the otherbrought a flying save from Harper.

Thencame Duff's goal, his first of the season. And there may have been adebut goal for Chelsea loanee Gael Kakuta who wasted two chances aftercoming on as a substitute.

Fans' fury: the Toon faithful air their disappointment over Andy Carroll's mega-money move to Liverpool

Andwith Newcastle finally rousing themselves, Schwarzer put out his righthand to prevent a Nile Ranger shot from squeezing in at the near post.

Pardewadmitted his side had not been good enough, and now finds himself shortof striking options. He added: 'We did not play well enough. The pitchwas not the best and didn't help either team, but we did not threatenenough and we could have been a lot better.

'Thefans understand there was a blow to us on Monday and we need to rallytogether, and I thank them for their support tonight, they werefantastic.'

 We must beat Newcastle if we want to stay out of relegation battle, warns Fulham defender HangelandNolan: Liverpool have landed a world beater in my ?35m pal CarrollPREMIER LEAGUE: All of Wednesday's action as it happenedAll the latest Fulham news, features and opinionAll the latest Newcastle news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Damien Duff, Leon Best, Andy Carroll Places: Newcastle, Liverpool, Australia

Source: Daily_Mail

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