Woeful end to season as Fulham are hammered 4-0 at home to Newcastle United
Scott Parker’s Fulham suffered a miserable end to a difficult season after falling to a 4-0 home defeat against Newcastle United in what was the former England midfielder’s first game since being confirmed as the permanent boss for the Whites.
Former England international Jonjo Shelvey, who was unmarked on the edge of the Fulham box after a Matt Ritchie corner, took a touch before flying a stinging half-volley past a helpless Sergio Rico just nine minutes in, his first goal in over a year.
The raucous Magpies fans let off a flare straight after but did not have to wait much longer to celebrate another goal, just two minutes later, Rico disappointingly spilled a tame effort by Christian Atsu into the path of Ayoze Perez who opportunistically scored his 13th league goal of this term.
Fulham’s misery continued just past the hour mark, centre-half Fabian Schar rose highest, almost unopposed, to easily head in Newcastle’s third after another accurate corner delivery by Ritchie, certainly resigning the home side to their 26th league loss of the season.
The Magpies were relentless and in the 90th minute got a fourth when Perez slipped through Salomon Rondon who eventually scored at a slight angle after an initial save by Rico.
The rotten defending typified Fulham’s season, the 81 goals they conceded in the league, the poorest of any side, was the Cottagers’ worst since the 2014-15 EFL Championship season where they shipped 83.
Though the West London side struggled defensively, theylooked threatening at times going forward, Captain Tom Cairney frequently combined with Ryan Sessegnon and the teenager, despite lacking an end product, was a handful for Newcastle full-back Isaac Hayden.
A Newcastle side, well organised by manager Rafa Benitez, at times relegated Fulham to audacious attempts from distance, Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers’ sent one just wide of Martin Dubravka’s goal 20 minutes in before an effort from a similar distance by Floyd Ayite flew just over the Magpies’ net.
Benitez and the Geordie faithful know all about AleksandarMitrovic’s aerial ability and were relieved to see the former Newcastle striker’s header drift just wide after a pinpoint corner delivery by Ayite as Fulham pressured for a goal backbefore the break.
There was a rare moment of celebration by the Fulham fans in the 64th minute, a long-range effort by Andre-Frank ZamboAnguissa bounced off Ayite and into the Newcastle net before being rightly disallowed for offside, it would have been a controversial goal if it stood, especially given that Magpies winger Atsu was on the floor injured further up the pitch.
A wretched afternoon for the Fulham fans almost had asentimental moment of delight, substitute Harvey Elliot, the youngest Premier League player, produced a decent, low save by Dubravka to deny the academy product a dream goal.
Fulham ended the season ten points off 17th placed Brighton and Hove Albion and despite producing some stirring performances, their recent consecutive victories against Everton, Bournemouth and Cardiff in particular, the Whites never looked like a side capable of clinging on to Premier League status.
They must now turn their attentions to earning promotion back into the top-flight next season at the first time of asking, it took Fulham four attempts to regain Premier League status after their last relegation in 2014.
The first task, is to surely attempt to keep a hold of star players like Mitrovic, who has been rumoured to leave the club, and Sessegnon, who received a rapturous reception when was substituted for Neeskens Kebano in the 81st minute.
Despite internal turmoil featuring owner Mike Ashley, Newcastle ended the season locked in mid-table, the type of stability Fulham can only be envious of, despite spending roughly £100m this campaign.
Fulham: Rico, R Sessegnon, Chambers, Mitrovic, Cairney, Ayite, Le Marchand, Christie, Bryan, Mawson, ZamboAnguissa. Subs: Fabri, Kebano, Babel, Ream, De La Torre, S Sessegnon, Elliot
Newcastle: Dubravka, Dummett, Schar, Lascelles, Shelvey, Rondon, Diame, Ritchie, Hayden, Perez, Atsu. Subs: Fernandez , Muto, Kenedy. Unused: Darlow, Clark, Cass, Watts