Fulham all fired up for the Cup – if they can keep forces intact

Fulham 5 Newcastle United 2

Craven Cottage

Suddenly the FA Cup is upon us again and the search for a plausible outsider begins. And, if there is such a thing as smart money in football, the case for Fulham became more convincing on Saturday.

Although Martin Jol's team have a tough assignment away to Everton on Friday, they seemed to go up a gear in disposing of Alan Pardew's hitherto obdurate Newcastle United. It was a devastating burst of sustained counter-attack that brought four goals in 17 minutes and transformed the mood around Craven Cottage. At the interval, gloom shrouded the riverside ground. Fulham trailed to a goal that, though splendidly struck by Danny Guthrie, owed much to the dawdling of Bryan Ruiz. The previous match had brought defeat at the hands of a 10-man Blackburn Rovers. Were we witnessing the disintegration of the Jol regime?

The resonance of the answer, devised during what may have been a lively interval in the home dressing room, should set Fulham up for the rest of the season – if they can keep together a three-man strike force that, on the form displayed during Saturday's purple patch, could be the equal of any in the Cup.

The trouble is that Andy Johnson, who replaced the injured Steve Sidwell, Bobby Zamora and Clint Dempsey are all bound to interest predators over the remaining days of January. If all can be kept, a Cup run beckons. If not, we shall be reminded of what Mark Hughes said about ambition as he left, eventually to join Queen's Park Rangers.

We shall know by the time Fulham travel to Loftus Road in late February for what, given the 6-0 win Jol's side recorded in their home match against a less moneyed QPR in October, should be a local event and a half.

If Zamora, say, is in the QPR team, a feeling that Hughes has been vindicated will be hard to banish. But Zamora, just 31, could not find much finer football than that he has helped to make in three and a half years at the Cottage: the comeback against Juventus and continued progress to the Uefa Cup final, the victories over Manchester United. And the ingredients are all still there. The destruction of Newcastle proved it. Even the immaculate service of Danny Murphy endures when, as in the second half on Saturday, he has the defensive awareness of a Chris Baird alongside him.

This is a force that, if kept together, could pass Loftus Road on its way to Wembley. Not that Newcastle can be discounted on the basis of a defeat that, as well as rare, was oddly emphatic; as Pardew pointed out, his back four had never before been as easy to penetrate in a season during which his own excellent work has been reflected in speculation about the England job.

Before Saturday, Newcastle appeared a more than decent bet to go far in the Cup. They have a winnable tie at Brighton on Saturday and a manager who, when with West Ham United, went desperately close to lifting the trophy at the Millennium Stadium in 2006; like Carlo Ancelotti with Milan in Istanbul a year earlier, he succumbed to the curse of Steven Gerrard and Liverpool prevailed on penalties. Where Newcastle suffered at Fulham was up front, where the absence of Demba Ba on African Cup of Nations duty was felt. They were dominant enough to have been two ahead at the interval but, without the destroyer of Manchester United and much more, remained vulnerable to the change of tactics dictated by Jol.

How will they recover? "We need to focus on the FA Cup match now," Pardew said, and no astute manager of Newcastle will ever take lightly the competition that has meant so much to the club's following since it was won three times in the 1950s.

If the Magpies can survive the trip to Brighton, Ba will have returned (subject to his own fate in the transfer window), andCheick Tioté (ditto), and the newcomer Papiss Cissé. Before the third round, Newcastle seemed tempting at 40-1. Ladbrokes are now quoting 20-1. Which makes Fulham attractive at 25-1.

Match Details

Fulham: STOCKDALE 7/10; KELLY 6; SENDEROS 5; HANGELAND 7; J RIISE 6; RUIZ 5; MURPHY 8; DEMPSEY 8; SIDWELL 6; DUFF 6; ZAMORA 7

Newcastle: KRUL 6; SANTON 4; COLOCCINI 5; WILLIAMSON 5; SIMPSON 6; GUTHRIE 6; CABAYE 5; GUTIERREZ 6; BEST 6; BEN ARFA 6; SHOLA AMEOBI 6

Scorers: Fulham Murphy pen 52, Dempsey 59, 65, 89, Zamora pen 68. Newcastle United Guthrie 43, Ben Arfa 85.

Substitutes: Fulham Johnson 8 (Sidwell, 37), Baird 6 (Ruiz, h-t), Frei (Dempsey, 90). Newcastle Perch (Guthrie, 76), Gosling (Cabaye, 84), R Taylor (Best, 86).

Booked: Fulham None. Newcastle Santon, Guthrie, Simpson, Krul. Man of the match Dempsey. Match rating 8/10. Possession: Fulham 52% Newcastle 48%.

Attempts on target: Fulham 7 Newcastle 9.

Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Attendance 25,692.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor