Newcastle started life in the Championship with a stunning and unexpected 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage tonight and the goal that beat us was another poor one with 6ft 6ins striker Matt Smith heading the ball home unchallenged after 45 minutes from a corner.
So it was another goal conceded from a set play.
Up to that point the game had been fairly even after Newcastle had started the game well but with Fulham coming into the game and with both sides claiming a penalty.
Newcastle’s claim looked after 35 minutes like a cast iron certainty as Matt Ritchie’s cross was clearly handled and it looked intentional but referee Simon Hooper waved play on.
Matt Smith heads home the winner unchallenged after 45 minutes
On 26 minutes Newcastle could have given away a penalty after Grant Hanley got in a late and clumsy challenge in the box, but the referee waved play on.
In the second half Newcastle came out with more vigor and we had some decent chances but we couldn’t put the ball away and after four minutes of added time the result we didn’t was upon us – a defeat in our very first game.
In the second half it was winger Matt Ritchie who looked the most likely to score.
To an extent it was the same old failings – poor defending and not being to put away our chances – and it seems just like last year at this time we need to bring in an experienced striker.
And it’s a big concern if we keep conceding these sloppy goals from set plays and we conceded two of them last Saturday against Vitesse.
But we knew Fulham with new manager Slavisa Jokanovic would be good because of what he did for Watford two years ago when he took over in October and had them automatically promoted in May.
The last time we started in the Championship we were also 1-0 down at half-time at West Brom but we came back to draw the game 1-1.
We should have had at least a draw tonight with the chances – but when you don;t take them and you let in sloppy goals – well – you lose.
It’s certainly not the result we wanted or expected and there will be some big publicity about Newcastle losing the first game.
But the positive is that the summer bubble has been burst and we now know it really is going to be tough in the Championship this season – in case we didn’t believe that before.
But we cannot panic – we still have 45 games to go.
After the game Rafa Benitez made this comment:
“We have to improve, this game can be a wake-up call for all of us.”
And we can see three more players arriving on Tyneside before the end of August after this poor start, whether or not we lose any more of our current players.
It’s now going to be a long eight days before our next game when we play Huddersfield Town at home – who are another improved team this season.
Fulham: Button, Odoi, Kalas, Madl, Malone (Ream, 85), Cairney, Tunnicliffe (Parker, 68), McDonald, Ayite, Aluko, Smith (Christensen, 68). Subs not used: Joronen, Stearman, Edun, Woodrow.
Newcastle: Sels; Janmaat, Hanley, Lascelles, Dummett; Colback (Aarons, 61), Hayden (Shelvey, 77); Anita, Perez (Armstrong, 70), Ritchie; Gayle. Subs not used: Darlow, Gamez, Sterry, Mbemba. Goal: Smith 45 Bookings: Hanley 68, Dummett 75, Janmaat 90
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)