Following some good performances of late that ended in disappointing draws, Tuesday night was a huge game for us.
The conditions at St Andrew's were awful - the pitch resembled a post-carny Newcastle Town Moor despite having been relayed in the pre-season!
Birmingham have a number of former Newcastle players in their ranks - Oba Martins obviously being one of them. The last time Oba and Newcastle were in Birmingham at the same time it ended in relegation for NUFC. We have made a lot of progress since that day. In 21 months since then, Oba has scored a paltry four league goals in three different countries.
Having conceded early on so often recently it was refreshing to see us fly into an early lead - Jonas played a great ball into the area and Lovenkrands netted with an excellent finish. There were only 96 seconds on the clock.
7 minutes in and Wor Joey won a header cleanly. The ref opted to penalise him and award a free kick to the home side - the decisions given against Barton are beyond a joke.
18 minutes and Roger Johnson headed a great chance wide. Seb Larsson was whipping in some good balls - it got me thinking that if he had agreed to join us in January it would have been a pointless signing given what happened with Carroll.
20 minutes Steve Harper pulled off an excellent save - he has been in great form since returning from his shoulder knock.
27 minutes Mr Tiote and Colo clashed heads. I would wince if either of them collided with another player - never mind them clashing into each other. As it turned out we witnessed the unstoppable force colliding with the unmovable object. I am assuming that Colo's curly wig and Mr T's MASSIVE snood prevented an explosion of nuclear proportions. On the snood - it made Tiote look like he had been the victim of a minor car crash. I thought he said he was giving the snood up? I am not sure the other Mr T would approve?
As we saw against Blackburn, Joey's passing was again short of its unbelievable regular high standard in the first half. He still runs the show for us though.
To combat the aerial threat that we thought Zigic might offer, we played a high line throughout. Martins was itching to capitalise on this and get in behind but time after time Birmingham players strayed offside.
38 minutes and Gardner, usually a threat from 25 yards, drilled a shot just over.
40 minutes - a rather out of sorts Jose Enrique (his Superman performance at the weekend obviously tired him out) whipped a great ball into the area. The ball was dropping nicely for Lovenkrands but Best opted to try his luck with a header. It was a miserable effort and I was cursing his pathetic heading abilities.
41 minutes and Brum were caught offside yet again. The home fans responded to this with a chorus of "you don't know what you're doing" to the officials. The officials got it right - perhaps the fans could do with a lesson on the offside rule from Sian Massey?
Steve Harper fell heavily taking a high ball just before half time. He stayed down for a while clutching his shoulder, which was worrying since that was an injury that ruled him out for a while earlier in the season. Fortunately he was OK to play on.
HALF TIME 1 v 0 to NUFC
In comparison to the first half, we started slowly in the second half - it took us a whole 4 minutes to score. Jonas was again the provider (he had a fantastic game) and Leon Best scored with a brilliant Centre Forward's header (see my earlier thoughts on his heading abilities). I can only assume that 'King Kenny' has his assistants scrambling to the bank as we speak to see if he can secure a loan in the tens of millions to sign Besty.
Oba Martins was taken off in the 57th minute. I am an Oba fan and would have welcomed him back on loan until the end of the season. He was totally ineffective tonight though and we saw that often enough in his time at Gallowgate.
SuperJose had a shot saved in the 58th as we pressed on and looked the most likely to score.
Joey got his mandatory booking for nothing in the 61st minute. This only a couple of minutes after Zigic barged into Williamson making no attempt at playing the ball. Was the useless 6' 8" Serb booked? Of course not. Would he have been booked if he was called Joey Barton? No, he'd have been sent off.
Ranger replaced Lovenkrands in the 64th minute. The Dane looked like he may have tweaked a muscle thoough it may only have been cramp.
Mr T had a go at goal on 71 - he struck it well but Ben Foster was well placed to save comfortably.
Guthrie replaced Leon Best in the 74th minute as Pardew looked to tighten up and not throw away another 2 points. Skiprat lookalike Sewper Kev came on for the blues.
The Hapless Roger Johnson missed another great chance in the 77th minute - he headed the ball straight at Harper. I have heard one or two 'Johnson for England' calls this season but vased on this game he is not as good as Mike Williamson.
78 and 6' 8" Zigic fell to the ground like a 5 year old child under a challenge from Danny Simpson - the ref quite rightly waved play on. Birmingham were finally starting to apply some pressure but the Newcastle back 5 never really looked concerned. They breezed through it ably assisted by the machine that is Cheick Tiote - he was chasing players 60 yards in the last 10 minutes and still did not look out of breath. Cameron Jerome fluffed a shot filling in perfectly for the departed Martins.
Big Sol came on to see out the last 5 minutes (plus a bizarrely awarded 5 minutes of stoppage time) and we cruised home becoming only the 5th club to win at St Andrew's since Birmingham returned to the Premier League.
This result makes it only 1 defeat from 8 league games but more importantly we have turned a good performance into a win. We are now 8 points clear of the relegation zone and maybe now we can start looking upwards rather than down.
It was an all round performance from the lads tonight - the back four and Harper were superb yet again and our forwards showed that they can pose a threat. Man of the match though has to go to Jonas - he was fantastic. He created both goals, ran for miles and embarked on a brilliant run in the second half that saw him take on half of the Birmingham side before winning a corner. Well played Spiderman.
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