Saturday, May 16, 2009

Newcastle falls closer to relegation losing to Fulham

Newcastle's hopes to avoid relegation took a dastardly turn as they fell 1-0 to Fulham at St James' Park. The loss, in conjunction with Hull City's draw to Aston Villa casts the Magpies into the relegation zone a point behind Phil Brown's side. With this in-mind the Magpies are now forced to venture into next weeks encounter at Villa Park needing points and hopeful that Manchester United do not slip up in the final week of the campaign.

While the match was decided with Diomansy Kamara's winning strike and Fulham 'keeper Mark Schwarzer consistently thwarted the many Magpie efforts as if to give his former side Middlesbrough another chance to avoid the drop it will be remembered in a long line of Howard Webb's dreadful calls. Additionally beyond the run of play, in-which Newcastle was not shy of intent or work-rate was the shockingly quiet grounds. In complete contrast to Monday evenings congregation, St James' Park was far from "cauldron" and should Newcastle be dropped, those who attended need to ask why they sat on their hands and kept their voices quiet. With the clubs Premier League life on a razors edge, the lack of support was simply shameful.

As the match commenced, Newcastle showed strong initiative and at the quarter-hour came close and Kevin Nolan played Oba Martins through only to see his close range shop from the six-yard box careen off the post. Disaster struck for Newcastle six minutes prior the break as Danny Murphy played in Erik Nevland, who then squared to Kamara for a professional finish, although many he certainly appeared in an offside position. Opportunities flourished as Newcastle came pouring back but still the match went to break with Fulham maintaining its lead. However five minutes after the break the match the match appeared to be level as Mark Viduka powerfully headed in a corner before referee Howard Webb pulled the goal back citing Kevin Nolan for a foul on Mark Schwarzer. The call was simply dreadful and further questions the referee's ability to operate at this level and in this case it very well might play a part in Newcastle's drop. On the hour Sébastien Bassong was shown a straight red for upending Kamara and Newcastle was forced to play a man down. Still they went forward but as the skies grew dark in a torrential downpour late attempts by Oba Martins and Nicky Butt were denied by Mark Schwarzer and the elusive goal could not be found.

There are many questions related to this match which naturally include Howard Webb's refereeing decisions but more than all, where was the home support when needed the most?