Newcastle face relegation

NEWCASTLE: Australia's Mark Viduka and Mark Schwarzer were at the centre of a disallowed goal storm as Newcastle's Premier League future was left hanging by a thread following their 1-0 defeat against Fulham.

Referee Howard Webb ruled out Magpies striker Viduka's second-half header for a foul by Kevin Nolan on Fulham goalkeeper Schwarzer as Fulham moved a step closer to qualifying for next season's Europa League and left Alan Shearer's side in dire trouble. Newcastle's loss dropped them back into the bottom three thanks to Hull's draw at Bolton. It means even a win at Aston Villa in the final match of the season next Sunday might not be enough to extend Newcastle's 16-year stay in the English top flight.

Shearer accused Webb of being swayed by footage of Newcastle's first goal in the 3-1 win over Middlesbrough last week where Nolan blocked off defender Matthew Bates at a corner to allow Steven Taylor to score. The pivotal incident early in the second-half came shortly after Viduka saw another effort cleared off the line by Dickson Etuhu as Newcastle went in search of an equaliser following Diomansy Kamara's close-range strike just before the break.

Shearer called on Sir Alex Ferguson to do Newcastle a big favour in their efforts to climb out of the bottom three on the final day. Hull host Ferguson's Manchester United on Sunday, and the Newcastle boss expects his counterpart to resist the temptation of fielding a weakened side in the wake of clinching their 11th Premier League title, even though they have the Champions League final against Barcelona four days later.

Newcastle will be without key defender Sebastien Bassong through suspension Park after the French centre-back was sent off on the hour for tripping Kamara as the Fulham forward sped through on goal. Whether Michael Owen figures next week remains to be seen. Newcastle were again without their injury-prone striker, who has strenuously denied claims he's set to retire at the end of the season to concentrate on his racehorse stable. Owen, who is widely expected to leave when his 110,000 pounds-a-week contract expires at the end of the season, failed to recover after missing training on Friday with a groin problem to fuel speculation he has played his last game for the club.