Newcastle Utd 1 Fulham 2: Fulham win on road but Bullard injury proves a sickener

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The Independent Online

Chris Coleman has known better days on the road. The Fulham manager has become accustomed to defeat whenever the team bus has pulled out of Craven Cottage. Yesterday he experienced victory on Tyneside, courtesy of late goals by Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra. It was not the most joyful of experiences, though.

It was uncomfortable enough watching Jimmy Bullard's right leg twist and buckle as he challenged Scott Parker to a 50-50 ball 13 minutes before the interval. The agony the Fulham midfielder endured can only be imagined. He was taken to hospital suffering from a suspected dislocated knee, after what appeared to be an attempt to put the joint back into its socket.

"We're not sure yet if has been dislocated," Coleman said later. "But we don't think Jimmy will be out for the season or anything. He might be out for two weeks, two months. We don't know.

"It was a complete accident. It shook our boys and it shook Scott Parker too. He came into the dressing room to see how Jimmy was. Fair play to him. Jimmy's foot just got planted in the turf. His leg went one way; his knee went the other."

Parker was so upset when Bullard was receiving treatment on the pitch he had to be consoled by his manager, Glenn Roeder. The Newcastle captain appeared to be blameless in the midfield tussle that may yet deprive Fulham of their £1.7 million midfield dynamo for a prolonged chunk of his first season with the London club.

At least Coleman's men headed home with three points in the bag, a feat they managed just once on their Premiership travels last season. As for Newcastle, their fans were booing at the final whistle after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It was in this fixture a year ago that the Magpies unveiled Michael Owen as a £17 million addition to a strike force that also included the priceless Alan Shearer. Yesterday the £10 million Obafeme Martins made his home debut for the Magpies and hardly measured up to the thankless task of succeeding Shearer in the Newcastle number nine shirt. The 5ft 7in Nigerian made little impression against the towering Ian Pearce and Zat Knight.

The Magpies had to take to wings to make some inroads into the Fulham defence, a mazy run on the left by Charles N'Zogbia setting up Damien Duff for their best effort of the opening half - a low drive that was hooked clear from the Fulham goalmouth by Pearce. That apart, the first 45 minutes passed with little incident - save for the challenge which left Bullard writhing in agony on the pitch.

The afternoon lurched from bad to worse for Fulham when - after a glaring miss by Martins - Parker rose to head in an Emre Belozoglu cross.

That gave Newcastle a 54th minute lead and it was in little danger until Parker departed in the 81st minute. Fulham found a foothold in midfield, and managed to locate Newcastle's Achilles heel, too.

The home defence suddenly imploded, Wayne Routledge skipping round Peter Ramage on the right and crossing for McBride to slide in for the equalising goal.

Then, with three minutes remaining, Routledge hoisted a corner from the left side of the pitch, the unmarked McBride rattled the crossbar with a header, and Bocanegra bundled in the loose ball from little more than a yard.

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