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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 December 2007, 16:56 GMT
Newcastle 2-1 Birmingham
By Saj Chowdhury

Newcastle v Birmingham
Birmingham gave Newcastle a good game

Habib Beye's stoppage-time goal handed Newcastle victory against a spirited Birmingham side at St James' Park.

Cameron Jerome gave the visitors the lead when he collected a long ball from Mathew Sadler, rounded keeper Shay Given and slotted into the empty net.

Obafemi Martins equalised for Newcastle from the spot after he was judged to have been brought down by Sadler.

And with seconds remaining, right-back Beye eluded his markers to head in Emre's corner at the near post.


The result was unfair on Alex McLeish's side, who for much of the game made Newcastle look distinctly below average - something Arsenal failed to do three days earlier.

The home support had been expecting Newcastle to continue where they left off on Wednesday.

And for the first few minutes of the first half, Sam Allardyce's men looked calm and strung together some good passing moves without really hurting Birmingham's defence.

The problem was the Magpies were relaxed to the point of being horizontal and that was exploited by Jerome.

The hard-working striker pounced on Sadler's raking pass, shook off a powderpuff challenge from David Rozehnal and coolly slotted past the onrushing Given.

That goal failed to wake Newcastle from their slumber and they kept needlessly giving the ball away in an effort to find forwards Alan Smith and Martins.

Birmingham, on the other hand, looked calm but also alert, with Liam Ridgewell and Brazilian Rafael Schmitz particularly impressive at the back.

Gary McSheffrey and Daniel de Ridder were doing their utmost to win the ball for the potent Jerome and Alex McLeish's men looked to have sussed everything Newcastle had to offer.

That was until the 30th minute when striker Mark Viduka replaced the struggling Nicky Butt.

Viduka did not directly contribute to the equaliser but his presence in the area created space for Martins who was sent tumbling to floor by Sadler's trailing leg.

The Nigerian dusted himself off to fire in the resulting spot-kick off Maik Taylor's left-hand upright.

That gave the home support and the team a filip and Milner had two chances to put Newcastle into the lead, first with a header tipped over by Taylor followed by 20-yard shot which rebounded off the crossbar.

At the other end, Jerome turned centre-back Taylor but had his poked shot saved by Given low down.

Jerome's pace caused confusion again in the second half when a long ball caught out centre-back Rozehnal once more before he was bailed out by team-mate Taylor.

McLeish brought on Mikael Forssell in a surprise yet positive move as Birmingham looked to go for a win, while Newcastle appeared devoid of ideas to break down the Blues' stubborn resistance.

Unfortunately for the battling visitors, they ended up with nothing when Beye sneaked in at the near post to head in substitute Emre's inswinging corner.

It was Newcastle's first win in seven games but they will have to play better in order to extend their two-game unbeaten run, while Birmingham can build on what was a superb display in the north-east.

  • Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce:
    "It is a really, really big three points. Nothing else really mattered today but three points, and we got them.

    "We have worked very, very hard over the last seven days - Blackburn and then Arsenal and now Birmingham - and now finally got what we deserved.

    "Birmingham, for us, is a winnable game. It would have been a huge disappointment had we not won this game today. I would have had to say 'this is not good enough'.

    "As spirited and good a performance as Birmingham put up today, by the amount of dominance we showed in the first half - even though we did play a game in midweek and they did not - we should have put those chances away and put it beyond Birmingham."

  • Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
    "We were comfortable and they got a penalty which gave them momentum and we're aggrieved at the decision.

    "But there are a lot of things to take forward to next week.

    "The decisions went more in Newcastle's favour than ours. They had a lot of territorial advantage but did not really look like hurting us."

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