Ambrose advances claims in the absence of Shearer

Fulham 1 - Newcastle United 3
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The Independent Football

Elections can be notoriously tricky things to predict, especially when your popularity has wavered as much as Graeme Souness's has on Tyneside, but there is no doubt that this first league win in two months will deliver a huge fillip to the Newcastle manager's standing in any polls taken today.

This was a chance for those former Newcastle stalwarts Andrew Cole and Lee Clark to shine against the side they once both served so well but it was a player nearer the start of his career than the end who made an impression at Craven Cottage.

Darren Ambrose's opportunities under Graeme Souness have been thin on the ground; indeed, he has only made a handful of league starts all season, but he was on hand when it mattered after 18 minutes.

Prior to the midfielder opening the scoring little of note had occurred on the pitch, unlike off it.

Souness, the Newcastle manager, had done what is generally considered unthinkable on Tyneside and dropped Alan Shearer.

Although he has scored in the Uefa Cup, the captain is without a Premiership goal in 10 games, going all the way back to a 2-1 win at Manchester City in early February. Souness is as aware as anyone that the last two managers to drop the Geordie figurehead were sacked soon afterwards.

Patrick Kluivert was given a chance instead but when the ball was curled over from the left wing by Charles N'Zogbia, it was James Milner who won the header at the far post. His touch was deflected towards Ambrose by Liam Rosenior and the former Ipswich Town trainee did the rest from eight yards out for his second league goal of the season.

Shearer's poor form has mirrored Newcastle's, as the Magpies had just two points from a possible 18 before this fixture. Their last league win came two months ago against Liverpool, of all teams.

Fulham, whose weekend win against Everton ensured they would remain in the Premiership, barely looked interested, with just a Clark header from 18 yards threatening Shay Given's goal before floating over the crossbar.

It was Kluivert who delivered a reminder of what he is capable of as he headed home after 66 minutes and nine minutes later Shola Ameobi again exposed Fulham's weakness in the air with a header from Milner's corner.

Tomasz Radzinski's goal four minutes from time was too little, too late for the home side.

Fulham (4-1-3-2): Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Rosenior; Pembridge; Radzinski, Clark, Boa Morte; Cole (Jensen, 65), McBride. Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Bocanegra, Rehman, Pearce.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Carr, Boumsong, Bramble, Taylor; Milner, Ambrose, Faye, N'Zogbia; Kluivert, Ameobi. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), O'Brien, Robert, Brittain, Ramage.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).