Nervy finish for Birmingham
Remarkable conclusion to first half leaves Blues in relegation mire
Last Updated: 07/05/11 5:26pm
Ameobi: Made no mistake from the penalty spot after Ridgewell's red card
Birmingham's relegation nerves remain after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle at St James' Park, where Liam Ridgewell was shown a straight red card in the first half.
Alex McLeish's Carling Cup winners are just four points clear of the Premier League's bottom three with just two matches remaining following the loss on Tyneside on Saturday afternoon.
Shola Ameobi put Newcastle into the lead from the penalty spot in the 36th minute after Ridgewell had been sent off for handball.
The penalty incident sparked a remarkable finish to the first half, as Steven Taylor, who started as a replacement for the injured Mike Williamson, then made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute.
Ten-man Birmingham were even able to grab a lifeline before half-time through Lee Bowyer, but there was to be no dramatic comeback in the second half as Newcastle moved onto 44 points and into the top half.
The game kicked off with both sides knowing a win would effectively end their relegation fears, and equally aware that a draw would not be the worst result, and for much of the opening 45 minutes, the game reflected that reality.
There was little action of note as defences dominated with Ameobi and Peter Lovenkrands seeing little of the ball at one end and lone striker Cameron Jerome, his physical battle with Taylor aside, finding himself equally under-employed.
Indeed, neither keeper had a save of any consequence to make until the superb Foster got down well to turn away Joey Barton's skidding 30-yard drive with 17 minutes gone.
But the end-of-season feel evaporated in an explosive final 10 minutes of the half.
The visitors found themselves under the cosh as the Magpies launched a sustained assault with old boy Stephen Carr clearing Ameobi's header off the line and Foster pulling off a fine save to keep out Coloccini's follow-up.
The Argentinian reacted first to head over Foster only for Carr to intervene once again.
However, as the ball fell towards Nolan, Ridgewell nudged it clear with his arm and referee Chris Foy pointed straight to the spot before producing a red card.
Ameobi waited patiently while Ridgewell made his feelings clear, and then clinically tucked the penalty into the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season.
The 10 men might have been dead and buried long before the break had Foster not made fine reaction saves to deny first Lovenkrands and then Nolan, but there was nothing he could do to keep out Taylor's towering 43rd minute header, which Sebastian Larsson could only help into his own net.
But Newcastle contrived to hand the visitors a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when Coloccini misjudged a long clearance to allow Jerome in.
The Argentinian and Taylor got back well to halt the striker's progress, but when he fed the ball to Bowyer, his shot ended up in the back of the net via a deflection off Coloccini.
Full-back Jose Enrique fizzed a 35-yard drive just wide of Foster's right post within two minutes of the restart as the Magpies attempted to kill off the game, and Ameobi headed over seven minutes later when he might have done better.
However, it took a good block by Taylor seconds later to deny Bowyer a second, and keeper Tim Krul had to save as the midfielder got in a second attempt from the rebound.
Birmingham were coping well with their numerical disadvantage, although they were aided by some lacklustre play from the hosts.
Nolan was unable to direct a 64th minute volley at goal, although Taylor's header arrived at a difficult height, and Cheik Tiote fired well wide seconds later with the home side stepping up a gear.
But for Foster, the scoreline would have assumed ugly proportions for McLeish, the keeper plucking Nolan's goal-bound 74th minute header out of the air and then making an even better save from substitute Nile Ranger three minutes later.Roger Johnson cleared Ameobi's 88th minute chip off the line, but it was all to no avail as the Magpies claimed the points with Tiote's record-equalling 14th booking of the season the only disappointment.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|10||Shots on Target||1|
|7||Shots off Target||3|
Barclays Premier League
|5||West Ham United||18||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||18||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||18||17|