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Barclays Premier League

St James' Park, Newcastle (ATT 52,222) 1st January 2005 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: R Styles

Newcastle Newcastle United vs Birmingham City Birm'ham

Magpies bag Blues scalp

By James Pearson.   Last Updated: 01/01/05 4:51pm

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Newcastle United secured a much-needed win with a hard-fought 2-1 success over in-form Birmingham City at St James' Park.

The pressure had been growing on Graeme Souness following a poor run, however, first half goals from Shola Ameobi and Lee Bowyer eased the strain.

Emile Heskey maintained his hot streak with his fifth goal in four games shortly after the hour mark, but it proved nothing more than a consolation.

The Magpies made a flying start to the contest and it did not take long before their early endeavour was rewarded with a goal on six minutes.

Craig Bellamy did well down the right after beating Olivier Tebily and his cross was perfectly weighted for Ameobi to power home a header from close range.

The home side continued to dominate and really should have pressed home their advantage with Birmingham on the back foot.

Referee Rob Styles saved the visitors when he awarded Blues a free-kick after Ameobi and Matthew Upson slid towards the back post following Laurent Robert's incisive cross from the left.

Maik Taylor then did superbly to push wide Bowyer's low right-footed effort after the former Leeds and West Ham man was set free down the right.

The visitors did cause one of two problems of their own, although first half chances were at a premium for Steve Bruce's side.

Shortly after Tebily was replaced by Julian Gray, the former Crystal Palace winger crossed for Heskey, however, the in-form striker could not get enough behind his header to beat Shay Given.

Just when it looked like Newcastle would have to settle for just one goal in the opening 45 minutes Bowyer struck a minute before the break.

The midfielder arrived right on time to slot home past Taylor after Robert burst past Mario Melchiot and put a teasing pall into the penalty area.

Ameobi, buoyed by his first half goal, tried an ambitious effort shortly after the interval, but his rasping-drive drifted just over the bar.

Clinton Morrison, who had been quiet in the game, forced Given into action when he headed Stan Lazaridis's left wing cross towards goal.

Seconds after Darren Anderton replaced Darren Carter for the visitors they pulled a goal back.

Morrison played in Heskey and, just as he did against Fulham, the former Liverpool ace cannoned a left-footed drive past Given at his near post.

The goal spurred on Blues and they almost equalised when Savage tried his luck from distance, although Given's superb position left him with an easy save.

Anderton came close with a left footed shot in the closing stages, however, Given was happy to let the shot fly over his crossbar.

Newcastle were inches from adding a third in the dying moments but Kieron Dyer's bullet shot crashed off the bar and rebounded to safety.

After controlling the match for long periods and having the better of the chances Newcastle will be delighted with the three-point haul.

Click here for Newcastle v Birmingham player ratings.

Newcastle UnitedTeam NameBirmingham City
4Shots on target ( Inc Goals )5
4Shots off Target (inc woodwork)2
0Blocked Shots3
6Corners Won5
9Total Fouls Conceded15
1Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0



Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 38 87
2 Manchester City 38 79
3 Arsenal 38 75
4 Manchester United 38 70
5 Tottenham Hotspur 38 64
6 Liverpool 38 62
7 Southampton 38 60
8 Swansea City 38 56
9 Stoke City 38 54
10 Crystal Palace 38 48
11 Everton 38 47
12 West Ham United 38 47
13 West Bromwich Albion 38 44
14 Leicester City 38 41
15 Newcastle United 38 39
16 Sunderland 38 38
17 Aston Villa 38 38
18 Hull City 38 35
19 Burnley 38 33
20 Queens Park Rangers 38 30