MATCH REPORTS

Newcastle United 0 Fulham 0

Referee Lee Probert in the Newcastle v Fulham game

By Dan King

The keepers were the kings at St. James' Park as Newcastle and Fulham shared a 0-0 draw.

Tim Krul was inspired for the home side, particularly in the first half, while Mark Schwarzer also made a couple of fine saves - but in truth it was not a great game as Mark Hughes' men claimed their eighth league draw of the season.

It saw United gain a point to recover from their defeat to Blackburn in midweek and consolidate their position in the top half of the Barclays Premier League.

Chris Hughton was forced to make two changes from the previous game, with Shola Ameobi injured and Joey Barton starting a three-game ban. In came Peter Lovenkrands and Danny Guthrie, while Fulham included former Magpies Aaron Hughes and Damien Duff.

Newcastle made a bright start, with Jose Enrique having a pull-back from the byline intercepted and Lovenkrands shooting straight into Schwarzer's hands from a tight angle, before the Dane got a free header eight yards out from Guthrie's floated free-kick, but got his bearings all wrong and headed the ball sideways, rather than towards goal.

Danny Simpson then drove wide with a first-time effort from 20 yards, but The Cottagers, wearing a green kit in the colours of Mohamed Al Fayed's Harrods stores, could consider themselves unfortunate not to take the lead on the half-hour mark.

After Simpson did well to block a goalbound shot from Mousa Dembele, Tim Krul had to dive at the feet of Clint Dempsey to block after a corner fell to the American. Then the Dutch keeper tipped Zoltan Gera's low effort around the post.

Krul then showed strong wrists to beat away Dempsey's curling shot after good build-up involving Dembele and Gera.

Newcastle saw Kevin Nolan fire well over from Lovenkrands' assist after Enrique had bombed forward to good effect, before the United skipper inadvertently blocked Andy Carroll's effort from a Guthrie corner, with Lovenkrands' follow-up brilliantly saved by Schwarzer from close range.

Up against the giant Brede Hangeland, Lovenkrands wasn't winning much in the air but did get in front of his Scandinavian marker to meet Jonas Gutierrez's cross just before half-time, but it went just wide and the final attack came from Fulham as Andy Johnson broke though, but scuffed his shot too close to Krul. Mike Williamson was booked after referee Lee Probert blew for half-time for a foul in the build-up.

As they did in the first period, United were out of the blocks quickly and Lovenkrands was again thwarted by Fulham's Australian keeper. Enrique's ball down the line was brilliantly controlled by Andy Carroll, who skipped away from Danny Murphy and spread play to Guthrie. He in turn played in Lovenkrands, but although there wasn't much wrong with the shot, the angle favoured Schwarzer and he made another save.

Then the keeper made a magnificent save from a Carroll volley from outside the box when Guthrie's cross was half-cleared, diving to his left to parry a piledriving effort.

Cheik Tiote - who was later given his fifth booking of the season, meaning he'll be suspended for Saturday's trip to Bolton, dragged an effort wide from outside the box, then Lovenkrands saw Schwarzer foil him yet again, this time saving his header after Guthrie's ball in after a great run from Gutierrez.

But Fulham served a reminder that they were still a threat too as Dembele rattled the bar midway through the second half, before Chris Hughton introduced Wayne Routledge - a former Fulham player - and Nile Ranger in place of Guthrie and Lovenkrands.

However, it made little impact - although Carroll did see an effort drop just the wrong side of the post after Nolan had an effort blocked - and both keepers emerged with a clean sheet.

Paul Barron, United's goalkeeping coach, may have afforded himself a wry smile as he worked for several years with Schwarzer at Middlesbrough and is now helping to guide Krul. But the home fans were left slightly disappointed, even if a draw was probably a fair result.

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