Newcastle United’s Ba back on goal trail in low-key victory

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DEMBA Ba ended his five-month goal drought against Monaco – and won praise from Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.

Ba scored the only goal of the game in Landsberg am Lech last night.

The striker – whose last strike had been against Aston Villa in February – netted a close-range header.

Ba bravely went in against Monaco goalkeeper Subasic Danijel to score, and Pardew – who saw the 27-year-old link up well with strike partner Shola Ameobi in the early stages – was heartened by his performance.

“Demba was brave there – he wanted to score,” Pardew said. “Not many people would have got that goal. It was a good finish.”

Pardew was also pleased with the performances of the club’s young players against Claudio Ranieri’s team, which was previously unbeaten in three matches.

There was praise for Haris Vuckic, Mehdi Abeid, Sammy Ameobi and James Tavernier.

“The younger players performed better than than they did in the first game,” added Pardew.

“You saw our fitness levels were up a little bit. Our established players all made progress. It was nice to see the young players make an impact – Haris, Mehdi, Sammy and Tav. I thought they were all very, very good.”

Newcastle started brightly, and Shola Ameobi hit the post in the second minute with an improvised flick after he was played in by Ba.

The pair combined well in the early stages, and Newcastle saw plenty of the ball down the flanks, although wingers Sammy Ameobi and Romain Amalfitano were unable to deliver a telling final ball.

Monaco also had chances and in the 27th minute Steve Harper, making his first senior appearance for the club in a year, got caught in the face by a shot from Ibrahima Toure. The loose ball was struck well wide.

Newcastle pressed forward, and the breakthrough came in the 33rd minute when a Mehdi Abeid cross was headed to Ba by Mike Williamson. The striker bravely went in against the goalkeeper and the ball went in the back of the net.

Nampalys Mendy had a shot turned wide, and Toure headed wide from the resulting corner.

Shola Ameobi combined well with his younger sibling Sammy for a chance late in the half, but Subasic was equal to his effort.

Pardew made three changes at the break – Haris Vuckic, James Perch and James Tavernier were all thrown on – and Valere Germain hit the bar with an early header.

Opportunites were few and far between in a scrappier second half at the three-sided ground, tucked away in an industrial estate on the outskirts of leafy Bavarian town Landsberg am Lech.

The best opportunity of the half fell to substitute Gabriel Obertan.

Tavernier played an inch-perfect pass out of defence for Obertan to run on to, but his effort was pushed away from Subasic.

Dan Gosling –who also came off the bench – saw his follow-up effort saved.

NEWCASTLE: Harper; Santon (R Taylor, 60), Simpson, Williamson (Perch, 46), Gutierrez; Amalfitano (Obertan, 65), Abeid (Tavernier, 46), Bigirimana (Tiote, 65), Sammy Ameobi (Vuckic, 46); Ba (Marveaux, 81), Shola Ameobi (Gosling, 65). Subs not used: Elliot, Coloccini.

H Papiss Cisse missed last night’s game through illness and looks unlikelyto play in the club’s last tour game, against Fenerbahce in Austrian village Ritzing on Saturday.

However, captain Fabricio Coloccini, an unused substitute last night, should be involved.

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