On-song Fulham keep Carroll quiet but still cannot score
Newcastle United 0 Fulham 0
Sunday 14 November 2010
Clad in their changed strip of Harrods' green they may have been, but there the similarity with multi-millionaire largesse, flamboyance and extravagance ended. Fulham's was a gritty, no-frills display more at home in the more modest surrounds of Lidl or Aldi than than Knightsbridge. They remain without an away victory in the Premier League for more than 15 months, but on the evidence of this well-organised, fully committed performance, Mark Hughes' side won't have to wait much longer to rectify that statistic.
Indeed, it would have ended yesterday had Mousa Dembélé enjoyed more fortune when his close-range effort struck the woodwork with 20 minutes remaining of a contest short on entertainment.
"It was a good all-round display," Hughes enthused after an eighth draw for his side this season, no doubt relieved his defenders heeded his warning of the threat posed by Andy Carroll. On the verge of his expected England call-up, the Newcastle forward was well shackled by Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes.
When the gangling forward did break free, he was denied first by Kevin Nolan, who blocked his team-mate's point-blank volley on the line, while Mark Schwarzer did well to push away a venomous 25-yard volley early in the second-half. "We stood up to the challenge," Hughes added, "Carroll is their attacking focal point but we did well against him."
It might have been different had some of the chances which came the way of Peter Lovenkrands instead fallen to Carroll. The Dane was ring-rusty on a rare start for the hamstrung Shola Ameobi, spurning opportunities either side of the interval.
For Newcastle, a first clean sheet here since their opening home fixture in August was scant consolation. A modest single-point haul from back-to-back home games in the space of 72 hours is a disappointing return. The manager Chris Hughton rejectedsuggestions they are uncomfortable in front of their own fans. "As it went on perhaps the fear of losing becomes greater than playing expansively to win," he said. "We deserved to win but sometimes you have to say it might have been a good point."
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: Dembélé
Match rating: 5/10
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