Newcastle United’s Championship campaign got off to a losing start at Craven Cottage tonight.
Matt Smith’s 45th-minute header gave Fulham a 1-0 win over Rafa Benitez’s side, who left the pitch knowing they should have had a first-half penalty.
Referee Simon Hooper waved away appeals after a cross from debutant Matt Ritchie was handled in the box.
United manager Benitez also handed debuts to Matz Sels, Grant Hanley, Dwight Gayle and Isaac Hayden.
Newcastle, led by Jamaal Lascelles, had a nervous, edgy start.
The pace of the game – it was frenetic at times – seemed to catch out some of Benitez’s players, and Ayoze Perez struggled to make an impression behind Dwight Gayle.
Isaac Hayden was able to bring some composure to United’s midfield before the game’s moment of controversy.
Hooper failed to penalise Ryan Tunnicliffe for handling a 35th-minute cross in the box from Ritchie.
Ten minutes later, an unmarked Smith headed a Tom Cairney corner past Sels.
Benitez threw on Rolando Aarons, Adam Armstrong and Jonjo Shelvey, but the team couldn’t take the chances that came its way during a second half which saw Fulham repeatedly run at left-back Paul Dummett.
Ritchie had a shot saved by the legs of goalkeeper David Button, and another blocked by Tomas Kalas.
Newcastle couldn’t find a way through, and they must wait until a week tomorrow, when they take on Huddersfield Town at St James’s Park, for another chance to get off the mark.
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 UNITED: 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)