The Magpies certainly put to bed fans' concerns over an extended winless period for the team by comfortably picking up all three points on the road in West London last weekend.
BY HOLLY BLADES
14:00, 6 OCT 2022
Newcastle United fans celebrate with the players after the full-time whistle (Image: Holly Blades)
Newcastle United made the 560 mile round-trip to the capital for the fans in attendance worthwhile with a stunning 4 goal display at Craven Cottage.
This was supposed to be a nigh on impossible trip for Geordies to make with train strikes affecting the LNER railway service on the day and eye watering hotel prices; but as the Magpies pinged the ball around with ease on a sunny day on the banks of the Thames, it will now most likely be remembered as one of the best away days of the season. With fans having to go to extreme lengths to ensure that they didn’t miss the game, the victory would’ve been received even better by the travelling Toon Army.
Although, it was against a Fulham side that was down a man from the 8 minute mark following Nathaniel Chalobah’s red card. Newcastle did ensure that they took absolute advantage of their opposition's short team with some precise passing and fantastic finishing against the weakened Whites.
Eddie Howe had chosen a starting XI that had fans left feeling puzzled: with Matt Targett being left on the bench and Dan Burn playing the unnatural role of left-back; whilst Jacob Murphy got a start ahead of Ryan Fraser. In hindsight, Howe's decisions made perfect sense as Murphy more than proved himself on the occasion.
There was lots of discussion pre-match about whether or not ex-United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic would come back to haunt his old club but the Serbian international instead hobbled off the pitch in the 37th minute with an ankle injury. Another former Toon player Kevin Mbabu was also named in the starting line-up.
Just 80 seconds into the game, United won their first corner through Jacob Murphy, forcing Mbabu to concede. Captain on the day; Kieran Trippier’s set-piece fell to Joe Willock only for his attempt to deflect off of Fabian Schar.
Newcastle had the opportunity to take the lead after the opening 5 minutes when Trippier’s free kick was found by Dan Burn who caused Bernd Leno to try and make a save. After Leno lost possession of the ball, Callum Wilson took it from him but his shot hit the crossbar from a close distance.
7 minutes into the game, a dangerous tackle from Nathaniel Chalobah on Sean Longstaff resulted in referee Darren England issuing a yellow card. However, after VAR got involved England changed that decision from a yellow to a red putting Fulham a man down.
That gave Newcastle an early advantage and Howe’s side consequently acted on it, scoring their opener on the 11 minute mark. Willock crossed the ball to Trippier before making the run to the back post to assist Wilson in scoring his first on his return to the team after injury.
Miguel Almiron of Newcastle United celebrates scoring Newcastle’s fourth goal - and his second - at Fulham (Image: Holly Blades)
Wilson had a second shot on target after 27 minutes but it went wide with Fulham being tested again. United scored their second on 33 minutes after Bruno G’s assist to Almiron who volleyed it with his dominant foot (left).
Mitrovic was taken off shortly after injured to give United an even bigger advantage. Murphy hit a shot wide from long range at 37 minutes but Newcastle took a bigger lead as half-time quickly approached.
Botman’s header hit off the post and S. Longstaff reacted quickly, walloping the ball into the back of the net making the score 3-0 in United’s favour before the break. Newcastle also dominated the possession in the first half with a 76 percentage rate.
Fulham then suffered injury problems again in the latter stages of the initial 45 minutes with Mbabu and Layvin Kurzawa being replaced by Tom Cairney and Issa Diop. Willock created another chance on the left hand side forcing Leno to hit the ball away in the 49th minute.
Four minutes later, Murphy had a go but his shot went straight to the keeper. The score was 4-0 before the hour mark as Almiron got his second. Murphy passed the ball to Willock before crossing it into the six-yard box where Almiron got his finish at 57 minutes.
At this point, Howe began making his substitutions replacing Bruno and Wilson with youngster Elliot Anderson and Ryan Fraser. Tosin had one of Fulham’s limited chances in the game at 68 minutes but headed it wide. It was an attempt of desperation from Silva’s men.
Almiron thought he’d completed the hattrick at 69 minutes but the goal was ruled offside. Anderson had another go two minutes later which went wide.
Howe made further changes; utilising the rest of his subs when bringing on Matt Targett,captain Jamaal Lascelles and Jamal Lewis for Burn, Schar and Trippier. Geordie talent Anderson got into the box for a second time at 83 minutes but yet again his attempt was wide of the net.
Fulham eventually found their way back into the game after being sub-par throughout netting in the 89th minute through Bobby De Cordova-Reid supplied with a cross from Neeskens Kebano. Sub Fraser clipped the ball over Leno after Murphy's assist but it too was ruled offside. In additional time S. Longstaff put the final shot of the game over the bar.
Although Newcastle were all but guaranteed three points before half-time the full-time whistle indeed confirmed that the Toon were Victorious. Eddie Howe and his team deserve full credit for their continuous grit, desire and determination.