Newcastle United’s top of the table clash with West Bromwich Albion ended all square leaving the battle for promotion still very much up in the air. The other title challengers Nottingham Forest were again on form as they closed the gap down to the Magpies to just three points.
A final score of 2-2 was just about a fair reflection on the game, although Newcastle were indebted to a glaring miss by West Brom late on. The home side again had to show their battling qualities, which have been evident for much of this season. Twice they had to come back from a goal down after making a slow start to the beginning of both halves. The match was a very entertaining encounter with both of the sides going all out for the victory, despite West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo claiming there was only side looking to win the game after the match. Indeed a game of this quality would not have looked out of place in the Premier League, even if the defending of the two sides was not at its best. Newcastle were frequently troubled by West Brom’s rapid counter-attacks and quality delivery from set-pieces. A statistic that reads only one win in five league matches remains a worrying statistic and there is still plenty of room for improvement.
But at the same time they have not lost in 13 matches and remain the only Championship side unbeaten at home. Their home record looked most at threat last night but the team again showed their character. Peter Lovenkrands in particular showed fantastic character by playing only days after his father passed away. It was a fitting tribute that he scored the crucial equaliser and his team-mates quickly rallied round in support of him. Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi has publicly admitted that he has been disappointed with his football career so far. In a revealing interview the striker feels that he had fallen short of the targets he felt he was capable of achieving at the start of his career. Despite being born in Nigeria Ameobi is as much as a Geordie as fellow local lads Steven Taylor and Steve Harper.
However he has never fully won over his many sceptics following a number of indifferent displays throughout his career. Ameobi said: “Five years ago, I had big ambitions; I wanted to be Shearer’s successor, wear the number nine shirt, play for England and go to the World Cup. So my career has not been fulfilled. I accept that. Five or six years ago, if someone had said this would be my career, I would have been disappointed. I would be the first to admit I have not fulfilled my potential or scaled the heights I thought I would. That is down to me. You can talk about injuries and make all sorts of excuses, but the harsh truth is I have not reached the heights I set myself.” At the age of 28 Ameobi should be reaching the peak of his football career and he is determined to get his career back on track. Signs have been promising this season, albeit at a lower level, with a return of eight goals in only 10 games.
Yet again injuries have blighted his progress, as they have most his career. Ameobi also admits that he has had a mixed relationship with the fans although he may finally have won most of them over. He said: “I have had it all from them. They have sung my name, booed me, cheered me and jeered me. It’s been a love-hate relationship at times, but I understand their frustrations.”
Chris Hughton has had frustrations of his own on the transfer front with no new players yet added to his squad. He has suffered a blow by being rejected by two of his leading transfer targets meaning that it is back to the drawing board. The latest player to turn their back on a move away is Leeds’ Jermaine Beckford who has withdrawn his transfer request. Newcastle could also be set to lose their number one right back Danny Simpson as his loan deal ends this week. Newcastle have agreed a deal with Manchester United but are refusing to meet the player’s wage demands. Owner Mike Ashley looks as if he is refusing to pay over the odds in this transfer window. One possible new signing could be former player Nolberto Solano who is training with the club. The popular Peruvian has a good relationship with Newcastle fans after two spells with the club.