NEWCASTLE UNITED went down 1-0 to bottom club Fulham in the first game of Alan Pardew's seven-match suspension.
Pardew was forced to watch the game from the team hotel and he won't be pleased with what he saw after Ashkan Dejagah’s 68th minute strike was enough to earn the struggling Cottagers a vital win in their fight for survival.
It was an under par performance from the Magpies, who didn’t put enough pressure on the hosts goal throughout.
Pardew made three changes to the side that beat Hull City a fortnight ago with Fabricio Coloccini, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Papiss Cisse all returning.
Coloccini returned having been given compassionate leave while Cisse and Yanga-Mbiwa slotted in to replace the injured Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy.
Pardew watched the game back in the team hotel for the first of his seven-match suspension and the Magpies boss won’t have been happy with his side’s slow half.
They struggled to get out of the blocks with several passing miss-placed but they were lucky that Fulham lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.
Lewis Holtby sent a dangerous cross into the back post, but both Brede Hangeland and 19-year-old Cauley Woodrow failed to get on the end of it.
Holtby provided another superb ball moments later and Paul Dummett was lucky not to divert the ball past Tim Krul as he tried to clear it.
Alexander Kacaniklic saw a long-range effort fly over Newcastle’s crossbar before Krul made a brilliant save to deny Holtby’s curling effort in the 33rd minute.
That was the first shot on target from either side in a low-key first half at the Cottage.
That seemed to spark Newcastle into life, though and they replied to Holtby’s effort with a chance of their own.
Moussa Sissoko sent a cross in from the right and Cisse made a lovely connection only for David Stockdale to make an excellent save to push the ball round the post.
Seconds after the restart Fulham had a goal disallowed when Kasami powered home, but the linesman had rightly flagged after Heitinga strayed offside to head the ball down.
Newcastle replied with an effort from de Jong, but having got himself into a good position inside the Fulham box the striker could only get a weak shot on goal.
Then, in the 56th minute Fulham had another goal ruled out, but it was the finest of margins that prevented Felix Magath’s men taking the lead.
Heitinga’s initial shot crashed down off the bar and looked over before Woodrow finished off the rebound, but the goal was chalked off with hawkeye confirming the whole ball hadn’t crossed the line by millimetres.
Woodrow went close moments later but was denied by Krul, but then up at the other end Cisse missed a great chance to put the Magpies ahead.
The striker was through on goal when he attempted to curl the ball past Stockdale, but the Fulham keeper managed to claw it away.
That miss would prove costly for Newcastle, though, when substitute Dejagah curled the ball under Krul.
The Magpies keeper should have done better, but Yanga-Mbiwa was also at fault having allowed the goalscorer to cut inside.