Newcastle United 1 Fulham 4

Last updated : 07 November 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Shambolic Newcastle United suffered their biggest home defeat for two seasons - since a 6-2 defeat by Manchester United in April 2003 - as they gift-wrapped Fulham a first away win of the season.

To make matters worse, United manager Graeme Souness was ordered from the dug-out as a catalogue of schoolboy errors gave Chris Coleman's side the most unexpected of wins at St James' Park and by a crushing three-goal margin.

Newcastle dominated almost the entire game in terms of possession and chances, but found Mark Crossley in dynamic form as he made save after save including three from Patrick Kluivert that he knew little or nothing about.

The dismissal of Souness came after ineffective referee Howard Webb ignored a blatant foul on Alan Shearer that paved the way for Collins John's first-half opener and then brushed aside a penalty appeal after Shearer was clearly pushed in the back by Papa Bouba Diop.

Souness remonstrated with the fourth official and hoofed a water bottle onto the pitch in anger before Webb ordered him from the pitch side.

Souness said the referee did not offer any explanation, claiming: "They never do. They don't ever have conversations with you - I wish they would." The frustrated Newcastle boss said he was bewildered by the result.

"In 35 years of professional football I'm extremely frustrated for myself and my players. I've never been involved in a game of football like that.

"Yes I've lost 1-0 when you've battered the goal but never 4-1. At times we played some great football, but Mark Crossley in their goal has probably had the greatest game of his life." Stunned Souness added: "Like our supporters, I'll be going home clearly frustrated and bewildered." Even Fulham boss Coleman admitted his side had enjoyed the rub of the green saying: "The ball bounced for us today and a few decisions have gone our way.

"Our keeper was fantastic and it was our day today. Newcastle had more chances and possession but we counter-attacked and showed a lot of bite and fight." Coleman paid credit to Crossley, saying: "Mark's got in the side by playing very well and he's picking himself." As early as the second minute United were denied by the awesome Crossley. Lee Bowyer worked a one-two with Kluivert as he cut in from the right but saw Crossley parry his drive and then react superbly to keep out Craig Bellamy's follow-up volley.

Jermaine Jenas then capitalised on a Mark Pembridge mistake to set up Bowyer who was also kept out by the inspired Crossley as United piled on the pressure.

Robbie Elliott pushed forward and saw his header from Bowyer's corner turned behind before controversy struck on the half-hour.

Zat Knight hauled Shearer to the ground and, with United voicing their anger, Fulham pounced.

Diop's crossfield pass was dummied by Andy Cole for John who turned Elliott and shot through the legs of Steve Harper.

Harper was making his first Premiership start since the end of January 2001 - a 3-1 win over Coventry - while Shay Given was on paternity leave with his wife Jane who went into labour earlier on Sunday.

Frustrated and angry by the goal, United were furious when Diop charged into the back of Shearer soon afterwards as he was about to pull the trigger and again all protests were brushed aside.

Crossley still had time to stick out an outstretched hand to deny Kluivert before the break as United searched for an equaliser.

Galvanised at the interval, the Newcastle pressure was relentless at the start of the second half as they earned nine corners in the opening 15 minutes.

Laurent Robert replaced Aaron Hughes and was inspirational in this period with his first touch clawed behind by the over-worked Crossley.

Fulham lost John who collapsed unchallenged in a chase with Nicky Butt and was replaced by Tomasz Radzinski.

Magnificent skills from Kluivert saw him turn only to be denied by the outstretched hand of Crossley as an equaliser appeared inevitable.

Yet Newcastle dropped a clanger on 65 minutes and it was all downhill after that. Andy O'Brien made a dreadful mess of a clearance to let in Cole who unselfishly picked out Steed Malbranque on the edge of the box to make it 2-0.

Five minutes later and it was three as Newcastle were caught without any full-backs on the pitch with Shola Ameobi having replaced Olivier Bernard.

Radzinski got behind Elliott who took his legs away and Malbranque netted his second by sending Harper the wrong way from the spot.

When the fourth went in after 76 minutes, it signalled a mass exodus of home fans. Elliott did not step up and Boa Morte was given a clear route to goal and finished with style.

The embarrassment was eased when Bowyer's cross from the right was headed in by Bellamy who had another late effort clawed behind as the final whistle could not arrive soon enough for the dejected United players.

Souness moaned: "It's gone and let's now score our chances against Chelsea on Wednesday."