United turned in an as insipid performance as you’ll witness against a side absolutely begging to be beaten in a drab, damp match played in glorious March sunshine. I honestly can’t think of a worse half of football than the drudgery dished up in the first 45 minutes as both teams barely strung the most basic moves together.
Yanga-Mbiwa replaced Debuchy on the right and Cisse came in for Remy up front with a standard 4-4-2. The first 35 minutes were appalling. What struck me about Fulham was their complete lack of drive or desire to force the pace and attack United though Holtby did test Krul with a shot from 20 yards
The first decent Newcastle chance of any kind came when a Sissoko cross from the right was deflected by De Jong for Cisse to fire at close range at the near post only for Stockdale to make a fantastic save. That was pretty much about it for the half save a Fulham corner which resulted in two horrible mis-hit attempts at goal within the box. I took my half time pint and wondered whether an available screen behind the stand with the bar doing roaring trade would clear out the entire away following for the 2nd half.
Both sides applied the smelling salts and came out with more purpose after the break. De Jong, who had laboured all game, admittedly with no quality supply, weakly shot at Stockdale when put through and with plenty of time. This kid comes with decent experience from his time in Holland and Germany but this long layoff he’s had clearly still affects him. He’s got to be better than this surely?
Fulham then had a goal disallowed when Heitinga cracked a 20-yard shot off the bar only for Cauley Woodrow to be called offside when he put the rebound in. The game then hinged on a 60 second spell where United should have scored but didn’t and Fulham scored when they shouldn’t have been allowed to.
Cisse, capitalising on a poor pass from the defence, teed himself up against Stockdale only to fire right at him from 10 yards out. Those of us in the stands had that knowing look that betrayed our total lack of confidence in our washed out No 9. Sad how he’s just making up the numbers these days and a really poor example of Pardew’s man management of flair or attacking players in my opinion. The game then moved quickly up the other end of the pitch with Fulham taking the lead when Dejagah’s shot from wide left somehow found its way through Krul’s hands at the near post. This after Webb missing Hangeland’s foul on De Jong in the build-up.
The only half chance United had was a glancing header from De Jong with 5 minutes to go and the 3-minutes added on is a good indicator to the lack of incident or intent on this game. Adam Armstrong came on for his debut and at least looked lively. There was just enough time for an advancing Krul, up for a corner, to smack the ball off Heitinga’s outstretched hand. Having seen the replay that should have been a penalty, but Webb didn’t want to know. It would have resulted in a fair share of the measly spoils today. Fulham will be desperately overjoyed for the points but they were abysmal, their lack of desire stark. They should go down but I thought the same of West Ham and Palace in the past 3 months.
I won’t wind up the report without mentioning a beautiful nonchalant back heel from Y-M on the half way line to save a throw in. Calm and as cool as you like. For that alone he gets Man of the Match.
Newcastle United: Krul 5, Dummett 5, Coloccini 6, Williamson 6, YANGA-MBIWA 6, Gouffran 6, Anita 6 (Marveux), Tiote 4, Sissoko 5, De Jong 4 (Armstrong), Cisse 4 (Shola Ameobi)
Subs not used: Alnwick, Gosling, Haidara, S.Taylor
Ref: Webb (4) Once again misses or “bottles” the key decisions. This time a foul before a goal and a penalty.
Mags: (4 ) Some noise 2nd half, otherwise bored into submission.
Fulham: ( 3 ) On the occasions I’ve been down they’ve never shown any passion or edge. My boss at work says it’s got something to do with the amount of transient ex-pats that follow them.