NEWCASTLE UNITED 0
Saturday, January 14 2006
Kick off 3pm
Gary Oliver reports
STEED Malbranque proved Fulham's supersub with a 75th minute strike to sink Newcastle United at Craven Cottage.
The Frenchman was perfectly positioned to fire home after Shay Given had blocked a Collins John shot - just two minutes after a goalbound Jean Alain Boumsong header had been cleared by Niclas Jensen while guarding the back post for a Nolberto Solano corner.
The hosts had been the brighter side during a first-half in which Shay Given was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
Opposite number Antti Niemi - making his debut for the Cottagers - thwarted Lee Bowyer and substitute Michael Chopra with a fine double save as the Magpies pushed for a late leveller.
But Newcastle failed to score on their travels in the Premiership for the ninth time this season, and that ensured a fourth defeat in five trips to London this term.
SECOND-HALF ACTION UPDATES
90min+2 - Ian Pearce concedes a free-kick on the edge of his box for a foul on Alan Shearer. Nolberto Solano takes the kick, but the Peruvian cannot work his magic on this occasion, sending the ball over the bar. It is the last act of note as United go down to another London defeat.
90min - Robbie Elliott hauls down Collins John on the edge of the Magpies box to give Fulham a free-kick in a great position. Luis Boa Morte strikes it with his left foot, but it flies over the bar.
86min - The introduction of Michael Chopra and Alan O'Brien has certainly lifted United, but despite continuing to force corners the elusive equaliser won't come.
85min - Steed Malbranque volleys over from 16 yards after Brian McBride heads a long ball into his path.
83min - Antti Niemi endears himself to the Fulham faithful with two vital saves. First, he pushes away a Michael Chopra cross-shot and he is then back on his feet to beat away Lee Bowyer's drive from the rebound.
80min - Graeme Souness makes his final change as Albert Luque departs and Alan O'Brien takes over.
79min - Only the woodwork prevents Heidar Helguson from doubling Fulham's lead. A low right-wing cross by the overlapping Liam Rosenior falls to the striker at the back post, and he cracks a rising drive against the United crossbar.
78min - Newcastle make a second change as Michael Chopra is sent on in place of Charles N'Zogbia.
75min - FULHAM GOAL: Brian McBride leads a forward raid for the hosts before playing in Collins John to his left. His is saved by Shay Given, but the rebound falls perfectly for Steed Malbranque to slot home.
73min - Fulham make a second change as Collins John takes over from Sylvain Legwinski. When play restarts, Peter Ramage wins a corner and from Nolberto Solano's right-wing delivery, Jean Alain Boumsong has a header cleared by Niclas Jensen.
70min - Fulham win a free-kick and Peter Ramage gets up well to win the ball ahead of Zat Knight. It breaks for SteedMalbranque who stabs a shot goalwards from 12 yards that Shay Given gathers to his left.
67min - The long legs of Zat Knight close down Nolberto Solano on the byline and Newcastle win the first of two right-wing corners. From the second, Albert Luque's delivery is cleared only to Charles N'Zogbia, but despite being well-placed 20 yards out, he scuffs his shot.
62min - Fulham make their first change of the afternoon as Tomasz Radzinski makes way for Steed Malbranque.
59min - A breakaway attack by the Magpies sees the ball with Albert Luque just inside the Fulham half, but his ambitious attempt to catch out Antti Niemi fails as his shot lacks power and distance.
55min - Another brave block by a Newcastle player, this time it's Lee Bowyer who charges down a strike from Simon Elliott on 18 yards.
52min - A deep centre from Nolberto Solano is retrieved by Alan Shearer for Albert Luque, and when his left-wing cross is cleared only as far as Charles N'Zogbia, the midfielder sees his shot deflected behind for a corner by Ian Pearce.
50min - Fulham launch a swift break down the right, but Robbie Elliott's first contribution for United is a crucial one, as he bravely blocks a goalbound effort from Tomasz Radzinski after a pull back from Sylvain Legwinski picks him out. In Fulham's next attack, Radzinski tumbles in search of a penalty, but his efforts fool nobody.
46min - Newcastle launch an early wave of attacks, and a weak Antti Niemi punch sees the ball fall kindly to Albert Luque, but from there neither Alan Shearer, Charles N'Zogbia or Lee Clark can cash in as they try to work shooting chances.
Newcastle make a change at the interval as Robbie Elliott replaces Stephen Carr. A defensive reshuffle sees Elliott partner Jean Alain Boumsong in the middle, with Peter Ramage moving to right back.
FIRST-HALF ACTION UPDATES
Half-time comes with the score still goalless, but with Fulham looking the more threatening side in the opening 45 minutes.
41min - A timely challenge by Lee Bowyer halts a run by Luis Boa Morte on the edge of the Newcastle box. The hosts are starting to build up a head of steam in the passage of play before the break.
39min - Jean Alain Boumsong clears off the head of HeidarHelguson as Fulham push for a goal before the break.
32min - Stephen Carr incurs the wrath of the Fulham fans for two challenges on Luis Boa Morte inside a minute. The second sees him booked.
28min - Sylvain Legwinski becomes the first Fulham player booked for a foul on Alan Shearer. The resulting free-kick is worked to Lee Clark, but his drive from 30 yards travels well wide of goal.
25min - Jean Alain Boumsong is penalised for a foul in the air on Heidar Helguson. Luis Boa Morte delivers the free-kick into the penalty area from the right, and a timely challenge by Stephen Carr on Helguson prevents the striker cashing in at the back post.
23min - Lee Clark's return to Craven Cottage comes with a yellow card, as he is booked by Alan Wiley for a foul on Sylvain Legwinski.
20min - Tomasz Radzinski tumbles off the field and needs treatment after a challenge with Celestine Babayaro. Fulham continue in his absence and win a free-kick midway inside the Newcastle half when Nolberto Solano fouls Luis Boa Morte. The Portuguese international delivers into the United area and Shay Given has to get down quickly to his left to grab Heidar Helguson's downward header.
18min - Newcastle win their first corner and Nolberto Solano is given two chances to cross from the right. From the second, Antti Niemi punches clear only as far as Charles N'Zogbia, but when the young Frenchman hooks the ball back goalwards from 30 yards, the Fulham debutant is back on his line to make a comfortable catch.
16min - Shay Given is again called into action when a long ball forward from Niclas Jensen is headed into the path of Tomasz Radzinski by Heidar Helguson, and the Canadian international unleashes a 20-yard strike that the Newcastle keeper pushes over his crossbar for a corner.
11min - Play is halted as Ian Pearce goes down clutching his face after an aerial challenge with Alan Shearer. Referee Alan Wiley and his assistant see nothing wrong with the incident and play restarts with a throw-in to the home side. Chris Coleman's team are quickly back on the attack and in the 12th minute, Shay Given has to punch clear off the head of Brian McBride before Jean Alain Boumsong completes the clearance.
7min - Lee Clark is in action again, but this time he concedes a free-kick midway inside his own half for a foul on Luis Boa Morte. Simon Elliott swings in the free-kick from the left, and when United fail to clear their lines properly, the ball is played back into Heidar Helguson lurking inside the Magpies' area, but his low shot is kicked behind by Shay Given for the game's first corner. The resulting flag-kick is headed clear by Albert Luque.
4min - A good start by Lee Clark on his return to Craven Cottage sees him break forward past two challenges on the left, but his pull back eludes both Charles N'Zogbia and Alan Shearer in the Fulham penalty area.
Newcastle, wearing their blue third kit, begin attacking the Putney End.
GRAEME Souness made two changes to the side that beat FA Cup opponents Mansfield Town last weekend for Saturday's trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham.
Lee Bowyer, who had sat out the last three games after being sent off at Liverpool on Boxing Day, returned to the midfield at the expense of Martin Brittain, who dropped to the bench.
There was also an enforced change at the heart of defence after Titus Bramble failed a late fitness test, so Peter Ramage came in alongside Jean Alain Boumsong in the middle of the back four after losing his place at right back last weekend to the fit-again Stephen Carr.
Lee Clark was afforded a warm welcome from the home fans when he emerged for the pre-match warm-up on his first return to Craven Cottage since his summer move back to Gallowgate. His skipper Alan Shearer, of course, began the game needing one more goal to set a new club goalscoring record.
Chris Coleman handed a debut to Finnish goalkeeper Antti Niemi, who moved from Southampton earlier in the week, while Newcastle old boy Alain Goma had to be content with a place on the substitute's bench.
Newcastle United: Shay Given, Stephen Carr (Robbie Elliott 45m), Peter Ramage, Jean Alain Boumsong, Celestine Babayaro, Nobby Solano, Lee Clark, Charles N'Zogbia (Michael Chopra 78m), Lee Bowyer, Albert Luque (Alan O'Brien 80m), Alan Shearer.
Subs not used: Steve Harper, Martin Brittain.
Fulham: Antti Niemi, Simon Elliott, Zat Knight, Ian Pearce, Liam Rosenior, Sylvain Legwinski (Collins John 73m), Niclas Jensen, Luis Boa Morte, Brian McBride, Heidar Helguson, Tomasz Radzinski (Steed Malbranque 62m).
Subs not used: Tony Warner, Moritz Volz, Alain Goma.
Referee: Alan Wiley.