By Marley Anderson

Papiss Cisse struck another last-gasp winner to move Newcastle five points clear of the relegation zone, as the Magpies edged out Fulham at St James’ Park.

It was Newcastle’s third late winner in their last four home games and Cisse is creating something of a habit of stoppage time strikes, having downed Stoke City and Anzhi Makhachkala with goals before seeing off Fulham today.

With Sunderland also losing at Chelsea, the win moves Newcastle up to 13th in the league table and means next week’s Tyne-Wear derby now has the added chance of sending the Mackems into the bottom three with a Geordie win.

In truth, Alan Pardew’s side could have seen off the Cottagers by more than the late goal had Cisse taken one of numerous chances he was afforded. Instead a combination of poor finishing and a number of unfortunate deflections meant Newcastle were made to wait until the final seconds.

Despite dominating the most part of the match, the home side could have fallen behind early on when Dimitar Berbatov curled a shot inches over Tim Krul’s crossbar from 20 yards.

They should have taken the lead though, when Cisse was played through by Sylvain Marveaux. The Frenchman was calling for the return ball when Cisse opted to try and curl past Mark Schwarzer first time, only to place it high and wide.

Fulham were content to soak up pressure and try and strike on the counter attack, with Bryan Ruiz and Berbatov the two main threats. They combined just before half-time and Ruiz found himself with a good chance, only to be denied by a magnificent diving block by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Substitute Vurnon Anita – who replaced Davide Santon early in the first half – almost got the breakthrough for Newcastle in the second half, only to see his deflected shot bounce off the crossbar with Schwarzer finally beaten.

With luck like that, the packed crowd at St James’ Park may have been forgiven for thinking that this wasn’t going to be their day. If they weren’t, the events that occurred from a corner 25 minutes from time might have pushed them over the edge.

Yoan Gouffran met the delivery with a glancing header that was destined for the corner but deflected onto the post by the arm of Sascha Reither. The rebound fell to Cisse but his effort crashed back off the same post that had just denied Gouffran.

With the visitors under severe pressure, they almost nicked a winner when John Arne Riise’s free kick was met by Berbatov’s stunning header but Krul denied the Bulgarian with an incredible acrobatic stop.

From then on, normal service resumed and Newcastle hammered on the Fulham door for the final stages, only for Schwarzer to stand tall and repel all efforts. The pick of the saves came when Anita’s cross was met by Cisse’s bullet header, only for the Aussie keeper to save well down low.

Time was running out for Newcastle and their players were wilting after playing their second game in four days. With Marveaux on the floor exhausted, Yohan Cabaye’s shot looped up off Cisse’s foot and the Senegal man reacted first to hook home a volley and give the Toon all three points.

The strike sparked scenes of joy around St James’ Park and both Cisse and Pardew ended up in different sections of the crowd celebrating with the Geordie faithful. The win may just have put Newcastle out of reach of the relegation battle below them, although a win next week against Sunderland would virtually guarantee survival, while potentially doing the opposite for their bitter rivals.