Fulham 0 Newcastle United 1: Allardyce teaching Newcastle the art of winning ugly

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The Independent Football

Sam Allardyce re-stated his need to make Newcastle hard to beat, after this undeserved victory. Right now, they are even harder to watch. Not that Fulham were any better on a bitterly cold night in south-west London. Despite the weather, Lawrie Sanchez was not shivering with anything but the early symptoms of feeling "pig-sick", which was how he described himself after seeing Joey Barton convert his penalty two minutes into stoppage time.

It summed everything up when Sanchez, the Fulham manager, claimed his full-back Elliot Omozusi was the man of the match, although the teenager, on his 19th birthday, dived in to tackle Alan Smith, who was going away from goal, to concede the penalty.

It meant Fulham, who had slipped into the bottom three before this game, thanks to Sunderland's draw earlier in the day, now host Wigan this Saturday in what is a crucial game for two teams in the relegation zone.

For Allardyce, these kinds of results are crucial if he is to begin to restore some faith among the Newcastle directors and fans in his style of play.

In their last three games they have won two and drawn the other, which represents a massive leap forward. "We asked the lads to stop Fulham first," he said. "I wanted a more resilient performance without taking away our opportunities to attack." Well, one out of two isn't bad.

But if Newcastle, with two consecutive last-minute victories, have begun to show more substance, Fulham tend to drift off towards the end of matches. They have conceded 11 goals in the last 11 minutes of league games this season, letting 12 points slip in the process. Dwelling on that could send Sanchez into despair as will the inevitable re-watching of this game before Wigan's visit. It would be nice to think it will lead to an improvement. Don't hold your breath.

Goal: Barton (90 pen) 0-1.

Fulham 4-4-2: Niemi; Omozusi, Hughes, Stefanovic, Bocanegra; Davies, Murphy, Davis (Kuqi, 73), Bouazza; Healy, Dempsey. Substitutes not used: Warner (gk), Seol, Smertin, Baird

Newcastle 4-4-2: Given; Beye, Cacapa, Rozehnal, N'Zogbia; Geremi (Emre, 59), Butt, Barton, Milner; Smith, Martins (Viduka, 77). Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Enrique, Edgar.

Referee: H Webb (Yorkshire).

Booking: Newcastle: Emre.

Man of the match: Barton.

Attendance: 24,959.

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