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.