Toon and Cottagers share spoils

A crowd of 44,686 thought the 21-year-old, who could win a first
senior England call-up on Saturday evening, had opened the scoring
with a stinging 52nd-minute volley, only for the Australian
goalkeeper to claw it out of the bottom corner. Schwarzer also made
two good saves from Peter Lovenkrands to preserve his clean sheet
on another frustrating afternoon for Chris Hughton’s men on their
own park. It could have been worse for the Magpies, who saw Moussa
Dembele’s 70th-minute volley come back off the crossbar after Tim
Krul had kept out three efforts from Clint Dempsey and another from
Zoltan Gera. But they at least claimed another point to add to
their survival fund with the total now standing at 18. St James’
Park was something of a fortress for the Magpies last season when
they went through the entire campaign without a single defeat on
home turf. This time around, however, their fortunes have been
mixed to say the least with thumping victories over Aston Villa and
Sunderland having gone hand in hand with depressing defeats at the
hands of Blackpool, Stoke and Blackburn. What the home fans were
hoping for was the kind of rousing start their side got off to
against Villa and the Black Cats; what they got instead was a nervy
opening 45 minutes during which they saw plenty of effort but too
little craft. Man of the moment Carroll was handled well by Brede
Hangeland, while the Fulham defence as a unit proved equally
resilient. After a slow start the visitors worked their way into
the game as their passing and movement stretched their hosts and it
was they who mustered the first serious attempts on goal in a
flurry of activity. First Krul had to come from his line to block
Dempsey’s close-range effort after Hangeland had flicked on a
28th-minute Simon Davies corner, and he then had to dive full
length to turn away Gera’s left-foot drive from 20 yards. He was at
full stretch once again on the half-hour to turn away Dempsey’s
curling shot with Fulham starting to dominate. However, Newcastle
finished the half strongly and might have taken the lead themselves
eight minutes before the break. Danny Guthrie, deputising for the
suspended Joey Barton, delivered a corner perfectly into Carroll’s
run and the striker’s volley was unwittingly blocked by team-mate
Kevin Nolan on the line. The rebound dropped to Lovenkrands and he
smashed it towards goal only for Schwarzer to save instinctively.
But as the half-time whistle sounded, the anxiety in the stands had
decreased little. The home side needed only two minutes of the
second half to call Schwarzer into action once again when Guthrie
slid the ball into Lovenkrands’ path and his shot was parried by
the Australian with Hangeland clearing the loose ball. Schwarzer
was extended even further five minutes later when Carroll ran on to
a clearance 22 yards out and blasted in a stinging volley which was
heading into the bottom corner before the goalkeeper got down to
turn it away. But Krul had to match his opposite number’s feat four
minutes later when Dempsey ran on to Dembele’s lay-off and fired
firmly towards the bottom corner. However, Newcastle went close
once again with 66 minutes gone when Jonas Gutierrez and Guthrie
broke at pace for the latter to cross for Lovenkrands, whose firm
header was saved by Schwarzer. Mike Williamson had to make a timely
intervention to deny Cottagers striker Andrew Johnson, making his
first league start since January, with 69 minutes gone, and from
the resulting corner substitute Dickson Etuhu’s header was blocked
and Dembele rattled the crossbar with a volley. Hughton threw on
the youthful legs of Nile Ranger and Wayne Routledge with time fast
running out, but it was Carroll who went closest as time ran down
with Hangeland making a priceless block to keep out his 85th-minute
strike.