Newcastle 2 Fulham 1
For the second time in four days young Tim Krul carried Newcastle Utd to a 2-1 victory, as he produced three world class saves. NEWCASTLE 2 FULHAM 1 NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Lovenkrands (Ba 62), Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Obertan, Best (Vuckic 78), Vuckic (Smith 85).Subs Not Used: Soderberg, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson. FULHAM: Schwarzer, Briggs, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird, Dempsey, Murphy, Sidwell, Duff, Dembele, Kasami (Johnson 73).Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Kelly, Senderos, Gecov, Etuhu, Frei. Att: 42, 684 Tim Krul - world class Leon Best emerged from the Tyneside shadows to prove there is life after Joey Barton and he will probably make the headlines today ... but take nothing away from the Dutch goalkeeper who is starting the season in fantastic style. He travels to join the Holland squad during this international break, with the Dutch recently pushing Spain off top spot as the "best side in world football", and he currently has the world at his feet. It won't be long before the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal come calling, but he is a kid who genuinely LOVES life on Tyneside. The obviously problem remains, how much will Mike Ashley value him? Because when the big bucks are waved in front of Ashley's greedy eyes, EVERYONE is for sale. Krul's three superb second-half saves were from Steve Sidwell, Chris Baird and Danny Murphy before he was finally beaten for the first time in the new League campaign by Clint Dempsey's 88th-minute header. Best replaced the injured Shola Ameobi at the last moment and responded with a second-half double to save Alan Pardew the wrath of the supporters. We need a couple of international-class strikers; Pardew knows that more than the supporters; but he still cannot get Ashley to open the buscuit tin. Ashley wants a bargain - Pardew wants players - so will they meet in the middle? It was far from a vintage performance by Pardew's side, and for the third game in a row (Sunderland, Scunthorpe and Fulham) we were rubbish in the first half. No half measures ... absolute RUBBISH! But just as they did in the previous two games, they got the job done to bank another precious win. After yet another eventful week at St James' Park during which Barton called time on his battle with Ashley and legged it, and striker Nile Ranger was arrested, the club's fans voted with their feet, or at least a significant proportion of them did. There were around 10,000 empty seats inside the stadium as the game kicked off, a far cry from the days of Kevin Keegan when there were 10,000 on the waiting list for season tickets. But Fulham only took 300 tickets from the 2,400 they were offered, so that takes it down to 8,000 empty Toon seats. But there are many reasons why fans stay away, not least the ridiculous state of the country, and thousands of supporters simply cannot afford to go these days. Fulham dominated the early stages with the Magpies unable to compete in the middle of the field, obviously missing the presence of Barton. You could taste the mounting frustration ... never mind feel it. However, United were able to limit the visitors to a single shot on target, a 12th-minute Pajtim Kasami effort, which was easily claimed by Krul. Newcastle were disjointed in the middle of the field and it was not until Cheick Tiote, who is gradually shaking off the after-effects of an interrupted pre-season, managed to make his presence felt that the Magpies began to push the Londoners back. Pardew's side still struggled to create anything of note until the game exploded into life with the half-time whistle fast-approaching. Winger Jonas Gutierrez forced Mark Schwarzer into his first save of the half with a 44th-minute header, and that was the cue for the home side to make a late push. Former Magpie Aaron Hughes got in a vital block to deny Best after he had turned smartly inside the box, and Schwarzer had to tip a curling Yohan Cabaye effort over his crossbar. From the resulting corner, the ball dropped to last weekend's derby hero Ryan Taylor, and his shot from 20 yards flew inches past the far post with the Fulham keeper stranded. Newcastle returned with their momentum intact and forced their way in front within three minutes of the restart. Schwarzer could only palm Cabaye's shot onto the crossbar after it had bounced nastily in front of him and Best when in the right place at the right time to tap home. The lead might have been short-lived had Krul not been at his best with 56 minutes gone. Damien Duff and Baird exchanged passes on the right before the winger sent in a cross which Steve Sidwell headed powerfully towards goal, only for the Dutchman to turn his effort onto the bar and enjoy better fortune than his opposite number as the ball went out for a corner. Dempsey fired just wide from a tight angle and Duff blasted into the side netting with Fulham searching desperately for a way back into the game. However, their hopes were dashed with 66 minutes gone when substitute Demba Ba controlled Gabriel Obertan's inviting pass and cross for Best to turn smartly inside the area and fire past Schwarzer. Krul pulled off fine saves to deny first Baird and then Murphy as the Magpies fought stubbornly to protect their clean sheet. But they found themselves under pressure once again as they conceded a series of late free-kicks, and their defences were finally pierced from one of them with two minutes remaining when Dempsey headed him from Murphy's cross. Schwarzer tipped an injury-time piledriver from Ba onto the woodwork, but there was no way back for his side.
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