15.03.14 Fulham v Newcastle United
Substitute Ashkan Dejagah scored the only goal of the game to boost Fulham’s survival hopes with a first win since New Year’s Day. The winger, a replacement for Pajtim Kasami on the hour mark, cut inside from the left and unleashed a low, fizzing drive that flew under Tim Krul and into the far corner to earn the Whites three previous points in their quest to maintain their top-flight status. Earlier, Fulham had been indebted to David Stockdale after he made a fine save to tip a Papiss Cisse shot around the post. John Heitinga then saw a long-range effort hit the bar and bounce down onto the line, before a poor William Kvist pass sent Cisse through but Stockdale palmed his strike away. That save proved crucial as Fulham went straight down the other end to score what proved to be the only goal of the game and three massive points. Felix Magath made five changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Cardiff City last weekend. In came Stockdale, Fernando Amorebieta, Kasami, Kvist and Alexander Kačaniklić, with Maarten Stekelenburg, Sascha Riether, John Arne Riise and Dejagah dropping down to the bench. Kostas Mitroglou missed out through injury. The changes saw Heitinga shift to right-back, with Amorebieta at centre-half and Kieran Richardson at left-back. There was a home debut for Cauley Woodrow, while highly-rated Academy prospect Patrick Roberts, 17, was named amongst the substitutes. In bright sunshine at the Cottage, Fulham started well. After Woodrow had almost connected with a Lewis Holtby free-kick after seven minutes, Kačaniklić fizzed a corner across the face of goal. In the 19th minute Woodrow did well to wrestle Kasami’s flick-on off Mike Williamson on the byline but Krul came out to dive at the striker’s feet. At the other end, Stockdale comfortably watched a Paul Dummett free-kick from 25 yards fly six yards wide of his left-hand post in the 23rd minute, before an ambitious half-volley from Kačaniklić from distance dipped just over the bar. Fulham’s best move of the game thus far came in the 31st minute when Kačaniklić’s flighted cross was nodded down by Steve Sidwell and into the path of Holtby whose curling effort was palmed away by Krul. A superb save by Stockdale kept the score level in the 35th minute. Moussa Sissoko’s cross from the right was sliced at by Luuk de Jong with the ball running into the path of Cisse who saw his stretching toe-poke tipped brilliantly around the post by Stockdale. In injury time at the end of the first half, Kačaniklić mishit a right-footed shot wide after a cross from the left had only been cleared as far as the Swede in what was the final action of an opening 45 minutes lacking in quality but not endeavour. Fulham had the ball in the net in the early moments of the second half but Sidwell was offside when he headed Holtby’s free-kick back across the goal for Kasami to prod in. De Jong scuffed a chance wide after running at the Fulham defence in the 49th minute, before Kasami saw a shot blocked when a pass might have been a better option. Newcastle failed to clear the danger and Heitinga hit a dipping left-footed strike from 25 yards that hit the underside of the bar and bounced down onto the line. Woodrow tapped home the rebound and peeled away in celebration but was adjudged – correctly – to have been offside. It was all Fulham at this point. Woodrow stung the palms of Krul with an angled drive after being found by Kačaniklić. Kasami departed the action for Dejagah on the hour mark, with Holtby tucking in just behind Woodrow and Kačaniklić moving to the right. Newcastle should have gone in front in the 67th minute when Kvist’s misplaced pass sent Cisse clear but the forward saw his shot saved by Stockdale. And Fulham went straight up the other end to take the lead when Dejagah cut in from the left and unleashed a low shot from the edge of the box that flew under the dive of Krul. Dejagah tore off his shirt and celebrated with the Hammersmith End, picking up a booking for his troubles. As the nerves began to jangle, Holtby was replaced by Riether in the 82nd minute, before de Jong headed a Dummett cross four yards wide. An injured Dejagah had to make way for Dan Burn in the 87th minute. Newcastle pushed forward late on – Krul came up for a corner – but Stockdale and company stood strong. Another ‘Great Escape’ could just be on.