NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew admitted it was going to a take a goal to go in off Papiss Cisse’s backside to get him off the mark in the Premier League.
A shot from Sammy Ameobi cannoned off the back of Cisse to give Newcastle a fortunate 2-1 win over West Brom yesterday. It was Cisse’s first in the league this season.
The striker, whose two previous goals had come in cup competitions, has struggled to rediscover the form he showed last term after his January move from Freiburg. But this lucky goal took the Magpies into 10th place, and left them two points adrift from Arsenal, in sixth.
With the game seemingly heading for a draw, Hatem Ben Arfa was fouled as he strode upfield. Referee Chris Foy waved play on, and substitute Ameobi tried his luck from distance.
“We had two breaks, really,” Pardew said. “We had that decision (from Foy), and it’s hit Papiss on the bottom and gone in.
“That’ll be the headlines, I bet your life, but Sammy’s had a shot and been positive. That’s what you’ve got to do.”
“It’s an unexpected two points,” he admitted. “If I’m honest, I was gutted last week that we didn’t get the three at Sunderland, because I felt we deserved it.
“We didn’t deserve the three points today, but we got them.
“Sometimes a bit of honesty, and a bit of hard work, gives you the chance to be in the game. We were still in the game.”
Three days earlier Newcastle beat Club Brugge 1-0 in the Europa League. And Pardew conceded his team is still struggling to adjust to the demands of playing in Europe.
“This Thursday-Sunday schedule is tough on us – we haven’t got the hang of it,” he said.
“I make no bones about that. We’re struggling for training time on the pitch. It looked like we had no rhythm.
“Last year we looked like a rhythmic team – keeping the ball well and moving teams around – and at the minute we’re just hanging in there.”
Newcastle had the first real chance in the 14th minute when Shola Amoebi – who had been preferred to Cisse in the starting line-up – dug out a deep cross from the right which found Demba Ba unmarked to flash a close-range header inches wide.
Ba had an ambitious penalty appeal turned down after tangling in the box with Albion captain Jonas Olsson two minutes later, and as the home side began to dominate possession Davide Santon brought a fine save out of Ben Foster with a long-range drive.
But the visitors had a fantastic chance to go ahead in the 26th minute when Graham Dorrans charged over the halfway line on a swift counter-attack and fed Lukaku, who was clean through on goal but saw his left-foot shot flapped out for a corner by the advancing Tim Krul.
Ameobi blazed a 32nd-minute chance into the upper tier before the hosts finally broke the deadlock three minutes later, Ameobi flicking a long Krul goal-kick into the box where Gareth McAuley made a mess of things and let Ba nip in to prod his seventh goal in nine starts past Foster.
Lukaku had another superb chance five minutes before the break when he was put through by Youssouf Mulumbu, but once again could find no way past the impressive Krul.
After a slow start to the second half, Lukaku finally got the goal his performance deserved in the 55th minute when he squeezed in between Santon and Fabricio Coloccini to nod home a Zoltan Gera cross from close range.
Magpies boss Alan Pardew responded by making a double substitution, bolstering his forward line with the introduction of Cisse for the tiring Ameobi, while Gabriel Obertan replaced Danny Simpson.
Ba hobbled off on 72 minutes to be replaced by Sammy Ameobi, and shortly afterwards Albion went close when Mulumbu shot down the left flank and set up a shooting chance for Markus Rosenborg, who hesitated for too long on the edge of the box.
But the Baggies had regained their composure and began to put the hosts under real pressure, only Krul’s alertness preventing the busy Rosenborg getting the vital touch on a deep cross by Long from the right flank.
Rosenborg was again unfortunate not to reach a cross from the left by Gabriel Tamas while at the other end a cross by Obertan was too strong for Cisse.
But just when it looked like the Baggies had secured the point their performance deserved, Ameobi tried his luck from the edge of the box and Cisse diverted home the winner to keep Newcastle’s fine home record on track.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson (Cisse 61), Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Perch, Gutierrez, Ba (Sammy Ameobi 72), Shola Ameobi (Obertan 61). Subs Not Used: Harper, Anita, Steven Taylor, Ferguson. Booked: Perch, Cabaye, Gutierrez. Goals: Ba 35, Cisse 90.
West Brom: Foster, Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Morrison, Gera (Popov 88), Mulumbu, Dorrans (Rosenberg 72), Odemwingie, Lukaku (Long 65). Subs Not Used: Luke Daniels, El Ghanassy, Jara Reyes, Fortune. Booked: Mulumbu, Ridgewell. Goals: Lukaku 55.
Att: 49,731 Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).