Newcastle United’s Shola Ameobi says there is still plenty to play for

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SHOLA Ameobi says Newcastle United’s season is far from over – despite the club’s FA Cup exit.

Ameobi captained Alan Pardew’s side in Saturday’s defeat at Brighton.

A cup run was in the plans, but Newcastle’s involvement was ended by a 76th-minute own goal from Mike Williamson at the Amex Stadium.

Now, Newcastle’s sole focus is on a promising league campaign which could yet yield a European place.

The Magpies are sixth in the division, level on points with fifth-placed Arsenal, and Blackburn Rovers are next up at Ewood Park on Wednesday night

“This isn’t our season over, not by any stretch of the imagination,” Ameobi said.

“We’ve got to stay positive, even though we’re bitterly disappointed. We’ve go to get over this and move on.”

Manager Pardew, hit by injuries and the loss of three players to the African Cup of Nations, fielded as strong a team as he could muster for the cup-tie, and Ameobi and his team-mates were confident they could progress to the fifth round.

“We spoke about the importance of the cup, and what it meant,” added Ameobi. “It was a chance to win a trophy with the two Manchester clubs out.”

While United dominated possession, they struggled to make any kind of impression in the final third of the pitch.

Ameobi went on: “It’s frustrating. We felt we controlled large parts of the game. We had a lot of possession, but we couldn’t make it pay.

“When you don’t put away the chances you have, especially in the FA Cup, the opposition and the crowd can sense something. They started to believe they could win the game. ”

Newcastle wasted the few opportunities Brighton afforded them, with Leon Best the chief culprit.

Best found himself unmarked 18 yards out early on but his low drive flew narrowly wide.

Best squandered an even better chance in the 12th minute when Ameobi headed the ball back across the Brighton six-yard box to his strike partner, who planted his header wastefully over the top.

Buckley roasted Santon on the half-hour and pulled the ball back towards Craig Mackail-Smith but Magpies keeper Tim Krul managed to gather the ball before the Scotland striker pounced.

Mackail-Smith sensed glory moments later when he was teed up by Ashley Barnes but his attempted 20-yard curler was never going to trouble Krul as it sailed wide.

Newcastle were first to threaten after the break with Ameobi again playing in Best, whose shot was kept out by the legs of home keeper Peter Brezovan, and Guthrie’s follow-up shot was deflected over.

Temperatures were starting to rise on the benches after Simpson was booked for a nasty challenge on Mackail-Smith by the touchline, before Poyet’s not entirely-serious reaction to Hatem Ben Arfa falling to the ground clutching his ankle seemed to irritate Pardew.

Then Cabaye appeared to lash out with a stray foot into the head of El-Abd as both players tumbled to the floor.

Krul was called into action for the first time in the second half when he parried Mackail-Smith’s near-post shot wide in the 70th minute.

Five minutes later Krul was beaten when Buckley got the piece of luck his barnstorming run probably deserved.

The £1million summer signing from Watford picked up the ball in his own half and charged forward into the Newcastle area before side-stepping Cabaye.

His shot looked to be going wide but it took a huge deflection off Williamson to wrong-foot Krul and bounce into the net.

Brighton: Brezovan, Calderon, Greer, Dunk, El-Abd, Sparrow (Navarro 46), Bridcutt, Forster-Caskey (Harley 65), Buckley, Mackail-Smith (Hoskins 90), Barnes. Subs Not Used: Ankergren, Vincelot, Agdestein, Hall. Booked: Sparrow. Goals: Williamson 76 og.

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Perch, Williamson, Santon (Ferguson 83), Guthrie (Gosling 83), Cabaye, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa (Ryan Taylor 83), Shola Ameobi, Best. Subs Not Used: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Obertan, Kadar. Booked: Simpson.

Att: 21, 558 Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).