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Premier League

  • 28 August 2011
  • • 13:00
  • • St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 42684

Newcastle 2-1 Fulham: Leon Best hits brace as Martin Jol awaits first Premier League win as Cottagers’ boss

Newcastle 2-1 Fulham: Leon Best hits brace as Martin Jol awaits first Premier League win as Cottagers’ boss

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Clint Dempsey grabs late consolation for Martin Jol's side, but Europa League hangover remains evident as they continue search for first win of the season

Newcastle United continued their superb start to the Premier League season thanks to a Leon Best double, with a 2-1 victory Fulham at St. James’ Park.

The win means Alan Pardew’s side remain unbeaten so far this season, although Clint Dempsey’s late consolation effort provided the Cottagers with their first Premier League goal of the season.

Peter Lovenkrands partnered Leon Best up front with Shola Ameobi unable to shake off the hip problem that kept him out of the 2-1 win against Scunthorpe on Thursday, whilst younger brother Sammy was named on the bench, despite scoring the extra-time winner in the League Cup clash.

Fulham boss Martin Jol was once again without striker Bobby Zamora, who remained sidelined with an ankle problem, whilst Andy Johnson dropped to the bench with Mousa Bembele taking his place alongside Clint Dempsey up front.

The visitors looked comfortable in possession in the opening stages, with Dembele striding forward unchallenged before finding Duff in space on the left hand side, only for Steven Taylor to be on hand to block the Irishman’s dangerous low cross.

Newcastle’s midfield duo of Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye looked combative but loose in possession, as Alan Pardew’s men struggled to get a firm grip on the game, although Fulham’s backline seemed equally intent on giving the ball away.

The first real chance of the game fell to the home side, when Best held the ball up well before opting to tee-up Cabaye for the cross instead of shooting, with the Frenchman finding the head of Lovendkrands, only for the Danish striker to nod the ball just wide of Mark Schwarzer’s left-hand post.

Youngster Pajtim Kasami peppered Tim Krul’s goal from distance, whilst the visitors were unlucky not to make more of a well worked Danny Murphy free kick that found Steven Sidwell in space in the box, only for Tiote to block well as the former Aston Villa man looked to pull the trigger.

In an otherwise poor first 45 minutes from both sides, Newcastle began to threaten in the final ten minutes of the half, with Gabriel Obertan sparking into life to put pressure on young right-back Matthew Briggs before crossing dangerously into the box, only for Lovenkrands to falter under pressure from Brede Hangeland.

Schwarzer was forced into action just before the break, with the Australian diving down well to save from Jonas Gutierrez’s header, after the Argentine rose to meet Tiote’s floated cross, before Obertan again turned provider down the right, only for Leon Best’s goal-bound effort to be blocked by Hughes.

The hosts' search for an opening goal continued to pick up momentum, and Ryan Taylor looked to have grabbed his third goal of the season, only for his effort from outside the box to just evade the bottom right-hand corner.

Newcastle were quick to ensure they maintained the pressure in the second half, and were duly rewarded, when Schwarzer failed to firmly parry Cabaye’s dipping shot, with Best on hand to tap in to an empty net from two-yards out and put his side 1-0 up after 48 minutes.

Simply the Best | Leon's brace helps Magpies to vital victory

Martin Jol’s team should have grabbed an equaliser ten minutes later, when Sidwell stole a yard on right-back Danny Simpson to meet Duff’s cross, only for the midfielder to direct his point-blank header straight at goalkeeper Tim Krul.

Yet as Fulham searched for an equaliser, it was the home side who doubled their tally 20 minutes into the half, when substitute Demba Ba controlled Obertan’s crossfield ball well, before firing a low cross into the path of Best, whose sublime first touch opened up space in front of goal, before he slotted home past Schwarzer from six yards.

Andy Johnson replaced Swiss youngster Pajtim Kasami with twenty minutes to play, with Martin Jol opting for an attacking front three, as his side pressed to find their opening goal of the Premier League season.

It was Krul again who thwarted Fulham in their search of a goal, when captain Danny Murphy looked to have breached the home side’s goal after he found space in behind the Newcastle defence, only for the young keeper to show superb reflexes as he somehow kept out the midfielder’s header from four yards out.

Dempsey was on hand to grab a late goal, with his looping header finding its way over Krul and into the back of the net on 88 minutes, but the effort proved to be little more than a consolation as the hosts were able to see out the remaining five minutes of stoppage time.

The win will ease any discontent Alan Pardew may have faced over the departure of Joey Barton, while the defeat for Fulham will be seen as further evidence that their Europa League exploits are proving detrimental to their league form.