REPORT & PODCAST: Newcastle United 1 Fulham 3, St James’ Park, 11/Mar/17, KO: 3pm Att: 51,903.

by • March 11, 2017 • Match reportsComments (26)2786


A very disappointing afternoon saw us completely outplayed by Fulham and undo some of the great work of the past few days, with Brighton and Huddersfield both narrowing the gap again.  Rafa made four changes from the Reading game, with Anita, Atsu, Diame and Gayle all on the team sheet but we looked a shadow of the side we’d seen in the last week and a half.  Fulham were the better side almost from the off and took the lead on quarter of an hour with a fine goal.

The excellent Cairney, who was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch was allowed room when he picked up the ball outside the area but his finish was classy, curling an effort over a slightly flat footed Darlow into the top corner.  We failed to respond, with a string of misplaced passes and an insistence on hoofing aimless long balls in the vague direction of Gayle, who ran around chasing terrible deliveries – Clark and Shelvey the main culprits.  Fulham looked the more likely to score again and Darlow was forced into a good save from Aluko , getting a strong hand to a shot from eight yards out.

They threatened again when Aluko saw his deflected effort sneak just past the post with Darlow beaten.  Cairney was
running the show, given acres of space and the lively Aluko, who’s had a couple of good games against us here was a constant threat.  We fashioned a chance ourselves at the other end when Clark got up to meet a looped cross from Anita, seeing his header tipped over.

Any hopes for an improved second half went out of the window within five minutes of the restart when Fulham doubled their lead thanks to some calamitous defending on our behalf.  A grass cutter of a cross foxed Dummett in the box and his dreadful clearance found Aluko, who had the wherewithal to backheel into the path of 16 year old Ryan Sessegnon who finished coolly past the dive of Darlow.  The game was well and truly over on the hour when Fulham added a third and such was their dominance at this point, then we were staring a proper hiding in the face.  The goal was simplicity itself, Fulham breaking quickly and a through ball behind Anita was met on the run by the excellent Sessegnon who calmly slotted his second away inside ten minutes.

Rafa thankfully took off the abysmal Diame, to be replaced by Murphy and the Senegalese has been one of very few disappointments this season – he offers next to nowt either in the middle or as support to the front line and patently isn’t anywhere near the required standard were we to go up.  Clark limped off shortly after with a hamstring injury that is likely to see him sidelined for a few weeks.  Murphy did give us something up top at least and the long balls started to be headed on and we gave ourselves a glimmer of hope when the Irishman pulled one back with 15 minutes to go.

It was a lovely goal as well, with Murphy taking a ball on the edge of the box and shielding his defender for long enough to create space to curl a fine effort across the keeper and into the bottom corner.  Any hopes of a Barcelona-esque comeback were wildly optimistic and we failed to seriously threaten again.  Fulham could have added a fourth in the final minute too.  Again Anita was exposed by his winger and the ball squared across the box was about to be met by Sessegnon when he was bundled over in front of goal by Dummett, who was extremely lucky not to see a second yellow card having being booked earlier.  Sessegnon was denied the chance of a hat trick from the spot and Ream blasted his effort well wide.

We’ve no time to feel sorry for ourselves but given the pattern of this season, evidence says that we will bounce back and Birmingham next Saturday gives us an excellent chance to do that – I’ve seen nothing in three games against them this season that would worry me and they’ve gone rapidly backwards under Zola but if we turn in a performance like today’s we’ll get beat.  What is absolutely vital is that the fans get right behind the team – we’ve still got a fight on our hands to get promoted and as poor as today’s performance was, we were well beaten by the better team.  It happens sometimes.

Keep the Faith

Newcastle United  – Darlow 5, Anita 2, Clark 4 (Gamez 5), Lascelles 3, Dummett 2, Ritchie 3, Colback 3, Shelvey 2, Atsu 3, Diame 1 (MURPHY 7), Gayle 5 (Gouffran 4)

Ref – Linington – 7 – No real complaints

Our Fans – 3 – A mix of people whinging and jeering every missed pass and a minority trying to raise the team

Their Fans – 7 – By far the best following they’ve brought up here

GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892


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The new issue of true faith (TF129) is out now. true faith is Newcastle United’s longest running and most widely read fanzine. No Newcastle United fanzine has ever had a bigger readership and true faith is one of the country’s leading fanzine titles and most respected. Since 1999 true faith has been providing the alternative view on what goes down at Newcastle United as well as providing fan-led nostalgia and the history of the club. We are the curators of our own history. true faith is one of the pioneering fanzines of the modern era. Staying true to the campaigning aims of the original fanzine movement, true faith has nonetheless grasped the possibilities of the digital age to provide the country’s leading digital fanzine to Newcastle United supporters and all at FREE cost.

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26 Responses to REPORT & PODCAST: Newcastle United 1 Fulham 3, St James’ Park, 11/Mar/17, KO: 3pm Att: 51,903.

  1. Chris says:

    I listened to the radio commentary and watched the few highlights on Channel 5. I have read many comments on the game, largely critical of Rafa’s 4-2-3-1 and his inability to change things when we need to. Fair comment, but 4-2-3-1 has brought us 77 points and top of the table.
    What I did notice from the radio was a real lack of crowd noise after we went behind, and I think those of us that go the matches (myself occasionally) should think about this. There is a sense that the home games are some sort of victory parade. They are not. Every home game should be a cup final. We have become easily put off by the Pardew/McClaren years, and too quickly feel ‘let down’ by the team. Yes – they let us down today, big time. But with more of a roar, more passion from the terraces, they might have fought those midfield battles and got themselves back into this game.
    We are not consumers. This is OUR club….our heritage and tradition. Let’s make every home game a cup final from now on. We are in a battle and we owe it to ourselves to roar the team on, even if we don’t like the formation. Rafa knows this isn’t the most gifted squad in the division (Fulham and Huddersfield play better football). But the club failed to recruit in January and he has to work with what he’s got.
    PS can we start Murphy next Saturday, he always gives defences something to worry about.

  2. Ian Summers says:

    Given the difference between away and home performances it seems obvious our own fans are part of the problem. Sadly too many of the 50000+ seem more familiar with reality telly than a real football match. I’ve never known such a nervous whinging crowd. Why did it become so acceptable to leave early? Contrast the Barcelona fans, that is how to support your team

    • Rob says:

      Couldn’t agree more mate. Some of our players seem to lose all confidence at home, which isn’t any wonder given the way some of our lot carry on. I hope this doesn’t come across as disrespectful (as it certainly isn’t meant that way) but it seems bizarre to me that some of our fans only participate when they continue the 17th minute clapping, but can’t be bothered to muster a “United!” once in a while.

      I sat in the Huddersfield family section last week, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been more different from ours. Some might see clappers as ‘cheating’ to create an artificial atmosphere, but at least there was an atmosphere. Far fewer negative comments, no sense of entitlement from their fans towards their team – and to be honest a far more enjoyable experience than SJP… while our players delivered as professional and disciplined performance as I can remember from a Newcastle team in many a year backed by some actual support from our away fans, who were excellent all day and could be heard loud and clear from the other side of the stadium.

      • Gary Ĺockey says:

        I sit in the East stand row F seat 3. Sat there for 25 years. The support around me is absolute garbage
        No encouragement. Nothing
        so bad I am thinking of trying to relocate to the Gallowgate.

  3. john rush says:

    Agree it seems that some of us have become pre-conditioned to the crap we have been served up for years the only pleasure they seem to get on matchday is constantly moaning when we are not five up after 20 minutes. Rafa wanted Cairney in January but Ashley allegedly chose to listen to a man in Graham Carr who has never managed above the old third division rather than a man who has won every major domestic honour in the game and refused to dip into the £30m profit made in the last transfer window, whose opinion do you think is right after yesterday? The owner may just lose his biggest gamble by refusing to strengthen the squad in January as if Rafa goes there will be a mass exodus of hardcore supporters and the posssibilty of no Premier League football to attract the daytrippers could be a fatal combination

  4. Rob says:

    Our home ‘support’ is horrible. Genuinely horrible, and certainly not supportive. After we started the game pretty well, a tension and anxiety fell over the ground when it became clear that, shock horror, we were playing a very competent team. Even before Fulham’s opener, it was like sitting in a funeral home. People seem to be coming to matches expecting us to blow teams away, and the atmosphere when it becomes apparent that the opposition might pose us a few problems is often terrible – this is particularly strange as in the PL, the support was often best against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
    It would be nice if fans – not least the bloke who berated me for clapping the players off – would try and get behind the team. I’m really proud of the efforts of Gallowgate Flags and very appreciative that someone, anyone, is trying to do something to generate some kind of atmosphere. Unfortunately, although I can’t stand clappers, drums or whatever else inside a stadium, these would at least it would mask the murmerings of discontent that appear when we’re not a goal up after 10 minutes.
    It seems fairly obvious to me that the home form is vastly inferior to our way form. Some people who sit on their hands in the East Stand and grumble, or berate players could do a lot worse than look at themselves. When times get tough, the players need more support, not less.

  5. Tomb says:

    It’s the case at most football grounds these days as people have been raised on the Sky hype and appear surprised when the standard doesn’t live up to the hype. Large sections of the traditional hard-core support have been replaced by day trippers and sky generation fans expecting to be entertained. An introduction of a standing section would help the atmosphere. The only time the support is good is when we are the underdog against the likes of Manchester City Chelsea etc or following a refereeing injustice.

  6. Daniel says:

    Everything said here about the poor home support and atmosphere at sjp is correct, but it’s worth considering that it is a two way street and the players should be able to cope with the pressure of expectancy and the way other teams consistently raise their game against us. If they could do this it would raise the crowd, just the way that the crowd can raise the players on occasion. Rafa is fully aware that there seems to be a mental defect within the squad regarding our home form and will have addressed it with the players – it’s worrying that the players haven’t been able respond to the advice/instructions of one of the best managers around. They need to be tougher, more ruthless and calmer under pressure.

    • Stephen says:

      Did you not watch the Brighton and Huddersfield away games Daniel ? They were tough, ruthless and calm there.
      Shit happens, we cannot win every game, Fulham were straight at it and better than us on the day. impressive side and better in both games against us than both Brighton and Huddersfield have been in my opinion.
      Instead of people screaming abuse, moaning, groaning and grumbling at Rafa’ s patient , keep the ball (even if it means going backwards) philosophy and approach (and which has served us canny well so far) GET BEHIND THE TEAM. That is all Rafa has asked of us.

      • Daniel says:

        Aye I did Stephen, and I loved both those performances, but it’s the expectation at home that they don’t seem to have the mental steel to cope with. It certainly aides Fulham in being better than us when the players are playing within themselves. I completely agree with you about the attitude of the crowd though and especially a patient approach – loved Perez’s goal v Ipswich. It just has to be realised that the players are to blame for home form as much a moaning fans – it’s a vicious circle.

        • Rob says:

          But evidently the funereal atmosphere isn’t helping the players reach the levels that they do away from home. I don’t particularly think that Paul Dummett is a fantastic attacking outlet, for example, but is it any wonder that he so often looks for an easy ball rather than swinging a cross in when he knows he’ll have thousands of fans moaning if it doesn’t quite work?

          • Daniel says:

            Again I agree Rob. I can’t understand people who lose patience with one or two misplaced passes, if we have to go backwards before forwards or get on players backs for simple human errors. Sticking with the Dummett example – shouldn’t he want to prove his doubters wrong? I’m sure he can whip in crosses with his right foot and eyes closed in training. My point is that any of our players at this level should be able to compose themselves enough to not have to play within themselves – this in turn would help silence the moaners (although some would continue no matter what). I know we don’t have any world class players, but Luis Figo played with freedom while pigs heads were being thrown at him, albeit not from his own fans it’s pressure all the same and to aspire to achieve, players need to handle it.

  7. Stephen says:

    The roof should have come off in that ground yesterday after the results the team had achieved in the previous three games, beating the media darlings and so called best teams in the league on their own grounds. We were 9 points ahead of third place with 10 games to go, christ what more do people want ? But instead after the first misplaced pass it was moan grumble moan moan.
    No wonder Rafa is starting to make little comments about how the away fans are ‘with’ the team and that the same needs to happen at home. He misses nothing. Same with the players they must be going into that dressing room saying ‘WTF’ at the negativity transmitting from the stands.
    Around me nobody encourages the team, claps anything good that happens but as soon as someone puts a foot out of place there is uproar, cries of ”fkn hell man” and such.
    Even when the young lads played against Birmingham they were cut no slack, first mistakes and it was bang!!
    When things were not going to well against QPR i could not believe what i was hearing, the negativity from all sides of the ground was astonishing.
    Back to yesterday, as the game wore on it was clear some of our players were running on empty after the brilliant shifts they had put in at Brighton and Huddersfield particularly, Shelvey and Ritchie being two examples and if the truth be known they cannot always carry the weaker links. Furthermore truth really be known Rafa has done brilliant to have us in the position we are in when we have players in the team like Colback and Dummett. I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at some of their play but at the same time piping up to encourage them to counter the groans and moans around me.
    As we discussed after the match some of that crowd need a reality check, this is not the shite of Carver, Maclaren etc and we are only in the first stages of the ‘comeback’ under Rafa. The objective is to get out of this league for starters and no more.
    The players efforts deserve better support.
    Put some spin on it, 7 points out of the last 12.
    The run in starts now, go on another unbeaten run lads. A 9 game one.

    p.s.And again well done to the lads and lasses in the Gallowgate corner for trying to lead by example.

    • Guy HW says:

      Agree Stephen. Something not quite right about home performances. Not least I think because of the nervousness around SJP in a first half. Bristol H was a recent example. We need to improve at home no doubt but we are where we’d want to be.

  8. Ian Summers says:

    This team have already earned our whole hearted support this season and especially when stuff goes against us at home as they have been excellent all season. I think its often forgotten how young a lot of the squad are. It became obvious last time we went down that the crowds of around 42k that season were predominantly supporters who got behind the team. I wish the extra 10k this season, that are here undoubtedly because of Rafa, would just f#@k off back home and entertain themselves with whatever reality telly nonsense their behaviour at matches suggests they are more familiar with.
    What becomes increasingly obvious is that the club are going to have to spend heavily to avoid another relegation battle next year in my opinion. If Ashley can’t see the opportunity Rafa represents then it’s time for all of us to just f##k off and find something else in our lives.

  9. mikey says:

    The real working class fanatics of yesteryear just don’t go anymore.

    The game has been gentrified, and the demographics of the fanbase is more reserved and nastier. I hate going these days.

  10. Alex says:

    Agree with much of the above. I know from playing semi-professional level myself that even when crowds of couple hundred or closer to a thousand start to jeer and moan, you play within yourself and think about things too much, which leads to mistakes. It seems many home fans don’t realise this however and are unaware of the negative impact on performance their whinges have. However, I also know from playing Northern League etc that 99% of the lads there graft their b******s off and this, to me, as a fan of NUFC, is all I would ask from the players. I watched 90 minutes of Diame pretending to close down yesterday and comically, Shelvey simply giving up and stop running for their second goal I think. Three tough away games granted but aren’t these professional athletes. Also, I reckon we miss Hayden more than many might have thought. Bite in midfield and contributes in final third with driving runs, one to keep hold of. HWTL

  11. Andy bee says:

    I agree Alex let’s get a balance here . I find it insulting that a comment above calls us the worst home crowd in the league. However I also prey for a return to the days a rocking SJP ( bet the 17k that saw Roy aitkens debut v Leicester will smile). But fundamentally I think our team of stars isn’t quite that , look at how many away games we’ve won in a shut up shop fashion ( Preston / Rotherham……). Diane and colback add zero energy to the engine room which makes it almost impossible to start with a fast tempo in the first ten minutes . Go for the throats from kick off and the teams who fear us before the game won’t settle. As for the whingers and moaners let them be as you won’t change them , what we now have is a load of whingers about the whingers!
    Let’s stick together let Rafa regroup the team and get out of this league.

  12. nick says:

    Don’t be too hard on part timers or older/shy fans who don’t take naturally to singing and shouting (I’m all of those things) – I do join in but we can’t expect everyone in the ground to go mental for 90 minutes. I think the bigger problem is the relentless negativity as the first sign of the team not playing well; “he’s shite, that’s shite everything’s shite”. Part of it is nerves and maybe part of it has built up over a decade of Mike Ashley…some people seem to be so used to being angry at the match they do it without thinking.

    • Anton says:

      I’m with Nick on the part time away/older/shy fans category. I am not exactly helping to turn any stadium into Maracana but I’ll join in if everyone else is singing. And I have never booed any players – I think this sort of behaviour is inexcusable. Just stand by the team as best as you can, or -if you want to protest- just don’t turn up.

      Having said all that, can we have a polite conversation about the logic of introducing a second front-man (at home) only after you have conceded two goals minimum?
      Also, we all love Rafa but playing to an ideal system without the staff to deliver it seems a bit pointless and counter-productive.
      For instance, Diame is not a false nine and should not be put in such situations because it’s not going to help with his morale (e.g. against Brighton for around 70 minutes).

      • Simon says:

        77 points begs to differ on Rafa’s formation and tactical decisions mate. We’ve won more games of football than anybody else in the country up to now, playing with 1 up front (suitably supported by the midfield). That we’ve won more away than at home doesn’t matter in the slightest. We’re top and have no real reason to suggest changing anything.
        Nothing wrong with politely debating it but those that shout and scream abuse and demand changes probably aren’t appreciating any of the above.

        • Anton says:

          I realise we have put a lot of points on the board which is great, but we are now getting to the final stretch of a long, long season. Some players are tired, others are recovering from injuries even if they’re playing (Gayle). Five of our nine final games are at home. All I’m asking is whether it’s time to tackle certain games in a slightly different way.
          Maybe the master-plan is getting 11 points from our away games and another 5 from home – which will do the trick. I hope the plan works.

    • Hoglan says:

      I don’t think anyones having a go at those who don’t sing every minute of every game.

      Its the silence when Fulham got their first corner after ten minutes or so, 50,000 people simultaneously shitting themselves. The heckling of Anita for passing it back to Darlow after Shelvey made a mess of a corner. The booing of Colback for a sideways or backwards pass (to a team mate!) when there is little in front of him. You can literally see the confidence drain from them.

  13. Stephen says:

    The St James Park crowd loved Scott Parker when he first came to Newcastle and played superbly.
    The St James Park crowd loved Cheick Tiote when he first came to Newcastle and played superbly.
    The St James Park crowd grew tired of Scott Parker and Cheick Tiote when after a season or so of seeing them doing the holding role very well, sweeping up and getting stuck in they didn’t start beating four men and lashing the ball into the net from 20 yards out every week.

    The St James Park crowd will i’m afraid – within the next 12-18 months – grow tired of Rafa Benitez style of patient , keep the ball (even if it means going backwards) philosophy and approach and demand the Kevin Keegan attack attack attack game plan.

    You could say Saturdays St James Park drubbing has been coming ,make no mistake it could have been five ,one. It could have happened against Norwich, QPR, Bristol City to name a few but it didn’t because Rafa has a way and more often than not it has worked and the players have found a way back.

    It did not on Saturday, move on. 9 games to go (sounds better than 35 doesn’t it) lets all hold our nerve and get behind the team. They are by no means the best bunch of players we have seen but they have earned better support than they are getting for their efforts this season. They graft their nuts off and have a go as a collective unit and after the shite we have seen in recent seasons that will do for me.


  14. Dave says:

    Couldn’t get to the game so can’t comment on how good or bad the home support (in general) was, although from reading the majority of the points raised above, some of it appeared to be very negative.

    I was watching the 6 Nations rugby so followed the match on Twitter by constantly refreshing and was astonished to read after only 10 minutes or so that a few of the players (namely Diame, Dummett & Colback, or “Passback” as one keyboard warrior likes to calls him) were getting absolute pelters from some of our “fans” who appeared to be tweeting this abuse to their beloved followers whilst at the game. Words fail me.

    Only my opinion, but isn’t there a time and a place to vent your spleen, perhaps not 10 minutes in I’d suggest, leave this debate for after the match over a pint.

    We need to keep our heads as there are only 9 more games to go and as someone above rightly points out, we have 77 points, more wins than any team in all 4 divisions, we’re top of the table, it’s still in our hands, Fulham were the better team and these days do happen etc. etc. so let’s just move on. Just don’t understand why people seem to enjoy getting on the players backs during the game, it doesn’t help.