Magpies bag Blues scalp
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 01/01/05 4:51pm
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 United||Team Name||Birmingham City|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5|
|4||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||2|
|9||Total Fouls Conceded||15|
Barclays Premier League
Sat 1st Jan
Liverpool0 - 1Chelsea
Fulham3 - 1C Palace
Man City2 - 1So'ton
Charlton1 - 3Arsenal
Bolton1 - 1W Brom
Newcastle2 - 1Birm'ham
Tottenham5 - 2Everton
A Villa1 - 0Blackburn
Portsmth1 - 1Norwich
M'boro0 - 2Man Utd
Barclays Premier League
|5||West Ham United||18||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||18||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||18||17|