Newcastle ended a run of four games without a win to record a deserved victory over Birmingham City. The result ensures that the Magpies are now mathematically safe and they can now concentrate on securing a top 10 place in the Premier League. The games turning point came in the 36th minute when a penalty was awarded to the hosts and Birmingham were reduced to 10 men. From then on Newcastle were able to take control of the game although their inability to kill-off the visitors almost proved costly. They were denied from extending the 2-1 advantage through some slack play in the final third and some fine saves from Ben Foster.
One of the talking points from the game was referee Chris Foy’s decision to hand Cheik Tiote his 14th yellow card of the season. That now leaves Newcastle’s midfield enforcer just one caution away from a three match ban for the start of next season. Alan Pardew has a difficult choice to make for the final two games of the campaign over whether to leave Tiote out of the side altogether. With little other than pride and prize money to play for it does make Pardew’s decision slightly easier to make. There is a feeling among the Newcastle faithful that Tiote has become an easy target for referees. His booking on Saturday came from his first poor tackle of the game in an otherwise impressive display from the African.
Another point for discussion was the performance of Steven Taylor on his return to the starting XI. The central defender could easily have been sent-off early on for an impetuous elbow on Birmingham’s Cameron Jerome that was missed by the referee. He later went on to score with a powerful header from a corner to double the Magpies’ advantage. On the whole it was a solid return for the 25 year old who rarely looked troubled by the Blues’ sporadic attacks. Taylor will he hoping to secure a regular spot in the team for next season and show his manager that there is no need to bring in more defensive cover in the summer.
Newcastle’s Managing Director Derek Llambias has blasted Newcastle fans who taunted former player Andy Carroll in their recent game with Liverpool. In his first reunion with his old club Carroll received a vitriolic response from the Geordie faithful. In his programme notes from Saturday Llambias wrote: “I was disappointed with the very negative treatment some of our supporters gave our former number nine Andy Carroll. Andy faced a barrage of insults from a section of fans in the stadium which he most certainly did not deserve.” The feeling among many Magpies supporters is that Carroll engineered a move away from the club by handing in a transfer request. The player felt that he was forced to move by the Newcastle board. As with most controversies there are two sides to the story and the truth will probably never be revealed in public.