Newcastle United vs Fulham: Bore draw leaves both sides wanting more

Newcastle United 0-0 Fulham: The two sides couldn't be separated at St James' Park

Martin Hardy
St James' Park
@mhardysport
Saturday 22 December 2018 18:11
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A desperate, late saving tackle from Jamaal Lascelles three minutes into injury-time. A possible handball from the same player to deny Aleksandar Mitrvoic. A stepover from Martin Dubravka in the 87th minute that also almost led to a Mitrovic goal, on his first return to St James’ Park.

If only Tyneside had been forewarned that the only action, the only tangible drama, would come so late in the day.

Three chances at the death, all for the visitors, no shots on target for the home side, and a healthy outpouring of frustration from home supporters when Martin Atkinson called time. Newcastle were hanging on by then.

Dubravka, who kept a tenth clean sheet in his 35th appearance, had a brief wobble, under pressure from Mitrovic. He deserved luck to side with him. Fulham suddenly found life, right at the death, and the substitute Aboubakar Kamara charged through, waited, and played a ball back to around 15 yards from goal, Mitrovic took aim, fired and with Dubravka charging across his penalty area, three Newcastle players attempted the block, which appeared to strike the arm of Lascelles. Atkinson waved play on.

Then, right at the death, Kamara outmuscled Fabian Schar, went past Dummett, and, with the home side having lost seven of nine at St James’ Park this season, looked set to crack home the winner, only for Lascelles to slide through, with his right foot to deny the opportunity, with Dubravka poised.

There had been precious little to write about before that.

The most notable action in the first half came in a fine right handed punch from Sergio Rico which, rather than connect with the ball, smashed team-mate Alfie Mawson on the side of his face. Mawson went down, and needed lengthy treatment to continue. That was in the 32nd minute, and it was the most notable thing in the game.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, who strangely was jeered by sections of the Newcastle crowd, had spurned an opportunity int he second minute, shooting weakly at Martin Dubrabka from a narrow angle. In the 41st minute Jean Michael Seri curled a 25 yard free-kick goalwards that Dubravka took comfortably to his left.

Neither side could do enough to win 

And before that, with 18 minutes on the clock, a clever, deep free-kick from Ki Sungyeung had found Jamaal Lascelles unmarked on the left side of the Fulham penalty area. The Newcastle captain headed across goal and the ball clipped Mitrovic before Denis Odoi cleared, with Ayoze Perez poised at the far post.

That really was it. By half-time, Newcastle had not actually recorded a shot on target.

Fulham sat deeper after the interval, the passionate remonstration of Ranieri with his players and assistant officials told you of that.

But for all corners and possession and decent positions, there was still nothing to trouble Fulham’s punching goalkeeper.

Mitrovic was denied again by Dubravka, early in the second and with 15 minutes left Fabian Schar headed a Ritchie corner onto the top of the Fulham goal. That was as near as Newcastle would come.

Fulham found life at the end, and almost a winner. The point moved them level with Huddersfield. The prospect of something much greater so agonisingly close.

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