Best plugs gap as hunt for striker continues

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND striker Leon Best struck twice to fire Newcastle into the Premier League’s top six but Magpies boss Alan Pardew is desperate to add to his squad before the transfer window closes.

At the end of a week which saw controversial midfielder Joey Barton finally sever his ties with the Magpies in the wake of exits for Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique, the men he left behind summoned up the resilience to grind out a 2-1 home victory over Fulham.

Best served a reminder of his determination to win a regular starting place with a decisive double, while Ryan Taylor once again deputised as left-back with owner Mike Ashley, managing director Derek Llambias and club secretary Lee Charnley still trying to plug the gaps into which they slotted ahead of Wednesday night’s transfer deadline.

PSV Eindhoven defender Erik Pieters remains frustratingly out of their reach, while they are yet to make the required progress in their hunt for a striker. However, Pardew is not concerned that a four-game unbeaten start to the new campaign will persuade the trio that there is no need to buy.

He said: “It never worries me about winning games, I never really worry about that.

“But I am frustrated that we haven’t got a couple of bodies in yet, and I think Derek and Lee and Mike are frustrated as well.”

It took the home side just three minutes of the second half to take the lead when goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer could only turn Cabaye’s shot on to the bar as it reared up off the turf, and Best stabbed it home from close range.

But Best’s second was all his own work as he turned superbly on substitute Demba Ba’s cross to fire home.

Clint Dempsey’s headed goal was too late to be anything but a consolation.

NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, R Taylor, Lovenkrands (Ba 62), Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Obertan, Best (Vuckic 78, Smith 85).

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Briggs, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird, Dempsey, Murphy, Sidwell, Duff, Dembele, Kasami (Johnson 73).

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

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