Fulham 1-0 Newcastle: Duff gets one up over old teammates
The Cottagers followed on from their FA Cup win over Tottenham with a solid performance against a Newcastle squad rocked by the departure of Andy Carroll.
Damien Duff netted the only goal of the match to down his former club and give Mark Hughes some joy ahead of the weekend's trip to Aston Villa who are ripe for the picking after Tuesday's loss to Manchester United.
Newcastle will now prepare for the visit of second-placed Arsenal to St James' Park on Saturday.
Venue: Craven Cottage, London Referee: Michael Jones Yellow cards:FU - nil NU - Danny Simpson 32', Danny Guthrie 42', Kevin Nolan 54'
Fulham and Newcastle were pretty much canceling each other out in the early stages with little efficiency in their attacking play as Clint Dempsey was inches away from scoring inside the opening ten minutes but was unable to get a touch on Moussa Dembele's cross.
Only two shots on target in the opening 45 minutes, one from each side, with Newcastle's Danny Simpson and Cottagers' midfielder Sidwell trying their luck from long range in a fairly dreary first half.
Fulham had another good chance through Dempsey shortly after the re-start but they were able to hit the lead in the 67th minute. GOAL Danny Murphy played an enticing ball over the top for Damien Duff who got around Jose Enrique and slotted past Steve Harper for the opener against his old club.
Cottagers keeper Mark Schwarzer was forced into a top save with just under 10 minutes left when Ranger turned and shot from close range before Harper kept his side in the contest down the other end with yet another save from a Dempsey shot.
Newcastle tried gallantly to produce an equaliser but were unable to do so as Fulham's defence held strong to record a vital win.
Fulham Mark Schwarzer (gk), John Pantsil, Aaron Hughes, Brede Hangeland, Chris Baird, Clint Dempsey, Steve Sidwell, Damien Duff (Davies 87'), David Murphy (Gera 87'), Moussa Dembele, Andy Johnson (Kakuta 72')
Subs - David Stockdale (gk), Gael Kakuta (72'), Zoltan Gera (87'), Simon Davies (87')
Newcastle Steve Harper (gk), Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Jonas Gutierrez, Danny Guthrie, Shola Ameobi (Ranger 13'), Leon Best (Lovenkrands 72')