Newcastle Club Focus – Ameobi seals determined draw

Newcastle showed just why they are currently occupying a place among the top four clubs in the Premier League with a spirited draw against Tottenham. Alan Pardew’s side twice came from a goal behind to advance their unbeaten run to ten games. While a Champions League spot still seems overly optimistic they can take plenty of heart from a strong finish against the best side they have faced so far this campaign. The Magpies had chances to win the game late on but a draw was about right for an end-to-end second half.

Pardew can take some of the credit for the comeback with both of his substitutes making a telling contribution when introduced with 20 minutes to go. The former Tottenham player replaced his first choice strikers of Demba Ba and Leon Best with Shola Ameobi and Hatem Ben Arfa. The former pair had both worked hard for the team although at times were let down by the quality of the ball in the final third. They mainly had to rely on hopeful long balls forward in the first half as the home side adopted a conservative approach against dangerous opponents.

However the second half saw more intent and purpose with Jonas Gutierrez in particular providing a real threat down the left. With the introduction of Ben Arfa Newcastle had another player on the pitch able to run at players and cause problems. The Frenchman has looked lively in his recent cameos and the time will soon come when he is ready to start, even if it means changing an unbeaten team and formation.

Ameobi made an even bigger contribution as he equalised with a quality finish to open his account for the season. After recently celebrating his 30th birthday in midweek it was a special way to celebrate a personal milestone. His goal was another reminder of a talent that has frustrated and delighted throughout his career with his boyhood club. Perhaps the progress of younger brother Sammy has given him increased motivation to show his value to the team.

Pardew was left delighted by the spirit showed by his team to once again show that their progress is no fluke. In the recent past it is unlikely a Newcastle team would twice have come from behind to retrieve a lost cause. But there seemed little panic among the ranks late on as they finished the game strongly. After the game Pardew said: “We walked off slightly disappointed that we hadn’t won it. We had a couple of great chances towards the end. You don’t want to hold on; you want to win in those situations. Both teams, to be fair, wanted to try and win and that makes for great entertainment.” With struggling Wigan next up at home the Magpies will feel there is another opportunity to keep their unbeaten run going.

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