Demba Ba is frustrated as Newcastle United’s slump goes on

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DEMBA Ba told of his frustration after Newcastle United were beaten by West Bromwich Albion – then backed the club to pull out of its slump.

Paul Scharner’s late goal condemned Alan Pardew’s side to a 3-2 defeat at the Sports Direct Arena last night.

In-form Ba took his tally for the season to 13 goals, but for the second time in three games, a double from the striker wasn’t enough to claim even a point.

Newcastle twice came from behind, but their fate was sealed five minutes later by Scharner, whose 85th-minute goal gave the visitors their first win at the Sports Direct Arena since the 1977-78 season.

United have taken just two points from their last six games, but Ba – who heads away on African Cup of Nations duty next month – isn’t overly concerned by the run of results, which has seen Newcastle drop from fourth to seventh place.

“We had a lot of chances, and we came back after being 1-0 down and 2-1 down to show our spirit,” Ba said.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold out for a draw at least. We’ve now gone another game without a win.

“I’m not really worried when I look at this team, the spirit we have when we play, the chances we create and the amount of bad fortune we’ve had.

“We’ve had offsides and chances going against the posts recently. These are just little things, and to tell the truth I’m not worried.”

Pardew’s keen for his side to get to 30 points before the end of the year, and they have a Boxing Day visit to Bolton Wanderers and a daunting fixture against Liverpool at Anfield on December 30 in front of them.

United’s early-season form raised expectations, possibly to unrealistic levels given the size of Pardew’s squad.

“To have 27 points at this stage is very good,” said Ba. “If we’d started the season in the way we’ve played in the last six games, then went 11 games unbeaten, everybody would be happy.

“We are just going to continue what we have been doing. I don’t think we are playing badly.

“We have to stay realistic. It’s only our second season back in the Premier League. I hope the whole stadium stays behind us, because I don’t think we are doing too bad.”

Newcastle fell behind with 20 minutes gone when attack turned to desperate defence within seconds.

Cheik Tiote’s pass was cut out by Nicky Shorey, who fed the hugely impressive Chris Brunt and watched as he produced a superb defence-splitting pass to put Odemwingie in behind Fabricio Coloccini.

The striker controlled deftly before firing confidently past keeper Tim Krul.

Ba thought he had levelled within two minutes when he drilled home from Leon Best’s knock-down, but an offside flag ruined his celebrations.

But in the event, West Brom’s lead lasted just 14 minutes.

Gabriel Obertan was brought down by Jerome Thomas 20 yards out.

Ba stepped up to take charge of the resulting free-kick and he curled the ball high to Ben Foster’s left with the keeper unable to deny the Senegal international despite getting a hand to the ball.

Newcastle, who had wobbled alarmingly in the wake of Odemwingie’s strike, attempted to capitalise on their equaliser, but they were caught again with a minute of the half remaining.

Brunt, who proved a threat throughout, floated a free-kick to the far post, where Scharner was allowed to helped it back across goal for McAuley to score.

Foster got down well to claim Best’s curling 54th-minute effort, and the striker was then replaced by Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa.

Shola Ameobi soon followed as Obertan, who had volleyed over seconds earlier, made way.

But after Krul had saved from Long, it was Ba who dragged the Magpies back into the game, converting Ben Arfa’s 81st-minute pass with relish.

Vuckic might have won it with a dipping long-range effort which Foster had to turn over, but the Magpies were caught once again at the death when Scharner stabbed the ball past the helpless Krul from Odemwingie’s header.

Newcastle: Krul, Coloccini, Santon (R Taylor 46), Simpson, Perch, Gutierrez, Tiote, Obertan (Sh Ameobi 72), Vuckic, Ba, Best (Ben Arfa 61). Subs: Elliot, Williamson, Abeid, Sa Ameobi.

West Brom: Foster, Olsson, Shorey, McAuley, Brunt, Reid (Jones 6), Thomas (Dorrans 68), Mulumbu (Thorne 76), Scharner, Long, Odemwingie. Subs: Fulop, Dawson, Cox, Fortune.

Ref: Taylor Att: 51,060.