Fulham U23 0 Newcastle United U23 1
- T Hing Fu
Jonjo Shelvey's second-half header earned Newcastle United's second string a fourth consecutive Premier League 2 win after beating their Fulham counterparts 1-0 on Friday.
Shelvey, who had asked to feature for the Magpies' second string, broke the deadlock on the hour mark at Motspur Park, meeting Tom Allan's excellent cross with a diving header to mark his return to competitive action after a thigh injury.
United's Ryan Barrett struck the post minutes later but Ben Dawson's side withstood late pressure from the Cottagers to earn another important victory - a 16th win from their last 21 matches.
Newcastle were aware that three points would maintain their chase for a Premier League 2 play-off spot in Division Two. However, it was the home side who started the brightest as an early free kick from Fulham's Matthew O'Riley was headed away by Lewis Cass, with the clearance falling into Tyrese Francois' path. He let fly with a first-time strike which cannoned off the outisde of the post.
Shelvey showcased his senior experience throughout the first half, with a mixture of long and short range passes, and went close to breaking the deadlock.
After collecting a short pass from Matthew Longstaff, the midfielder let fly with a fierce effort from distance, requiring George Wickens to push the ball around the post with both hands.
Kelland Watts, who had netted four goals in his previous five matches, almost added to his impressive tally. After evading a late challenge, the defender tested Wickens with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area, with the Fulham goalkeeper forced to push the effort past the far post.
From the resulting corner, Watts rose well from Rosaire Longelo's teasing corner to divert his header towards goal but, despite beating the keeper on this occasion, O'Riley was positioned on the goal line to hook clear from danger.
United, who had defeated the Cottagers 5-2 at Whitley Park in October, were made to be patient for their opening goal but eventually gained the lead midway through the second half.
As Allan raced towards the byline, the 19-year-old sent a wonderful cross into the path of Shelvey, who arrived into the penalty area unmarked, making no mistake from six yards in heading the ball beyond Wickens in his final contribution of the tie before being withdrawn.
The away side were unfortunate moments later with Barrett going within inches of netting his first goal at under-23 level. With Longstaff finding the right-back in space, his first-time effort clipped the inside of the far post, with the Newcastle attack unable to capitalise with the rebound.
Nevertheless, United were able to restrict the West London side to a limited amount of clear-cut goalscoring opportunities and maintained their clean sheet to claim a valuable three points.
Newcastle United Under-23s: Nathan Harker, Ryan Barrett, Rosaire Longelo (Juanito 84), Kelland Watts, Owen Bailey (c), Lewis Cass, Tom Allan, Jonjo Shelvey (Jack Young 62), Yannick Touré, Matthew Longstaff, Mo Sangare (Oliver Walters 46).
Subs not used: Otto Huuhtanen, Tyrique Bartlett.
Photograph courtesy of Fulham FC