Best wants to make up for lost time

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Leon Best is desperate to make up for lost time after his latest match-winning display for Newcastle.

As the Magpies' hierarchy attempted to push through their remaining summer transfer business, some of which involves the recruitment of a proven striker, the 24-year-old Republic of Ireland international emerged from his latest bout of injury misery to remind manager Alan Pardew that he still has something to offer.

Best's double was enough to clinch a narrow 2-1 home victory over Fulham which extended the Tyneside club's unbeaten start to the new campaign to four games and left them sitting in sixth place in the Barclays Premier League table.

The ongoing shopping mission and Demba Ba's close-season arrival at St James' Park did not appear to augur well for the former Coventry frontman Best, who missed both the start and finish of last season with ankle injuries.

However, in the meantime, he notched a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over West Ham on January 5, and he now has eight goals in just 10 Premier League starts.

Asked if he feels like he is starting all over again after his injury lay-off, Best said: "Yes, definitely, but then I just think back to those days and remember how I felt, and now to be scoring out there again...

"I just put those days behind me and concentrate on the future now and keep getting goals and keep winning games, hopefully. It gives me that self-belief again to keep going on and keep striving."

Best, like Newcastle in general, started slowly against Fulham, but having belatedly found their feet in a flurry of activity just before the break, they needed just three minutes of the second half to take the lead when Best was perfectly placed to tap home from close range after keeper Mark Schwarzer could only turn Yohan Cabaye's shot on to the crossbar.

The striker doubled the dose with 66 minutes gone when he turned expertly on substitute Demba Ba's inviting cross and stabbed the ball past Schwarzer.

It was not quite game over as Tim Krul, who had earlier kept out a point-blank Steve Sidwell header, saved in quick succession from Chris Baird and Danny Murphy, and although he was eventually beaten by Clint Dempsey two minutes from time, Ba was denied a first strike for the club by the woodwork at the death.

The win extended Newcastle points tally to seven from a possible nine, a more than creditable achievement after losing skipper Kevin Nolan and influential pair Jose Enrique and Joey Barton.

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Joey Barton
Leon Best
Mark Schwarzer
Kevin Nolan
Tim Krul
Premier League
Newcastle United
Jose Enrique
Danny Murphy
Chris Baird
Demba Ba
Steve Sidwell
Coventry City
Clint Dempsey

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