Premier League - Newcastle beat 10-man Blues

Sat, 07 May 16:58:00 2011

Birmingham had a player sent off for a second straight match in a 2-1 defeat against Newcastle Unitedat St James' Park in the Premier League.

Match Highlights:

A mad 10-minute spell at the end of the first half determined the game as Liam Ridgewell saw red and Shola Ameobi stroke home the resulting penalty to hand the home side the lead.

That sparked a Newcastle onslaught, and despite Ben Foster's heroics in goal for Birmingham, the hosts added a second through Steven Taylor.

Birmingham were given an unlikely reprieve when Lee Bowyer was allowed to score almost immediately afterwards, but with a man down and a defensive mindset they could not make an impact in the second half.

Newcastle had considerably more of the ball but a determined Birmingham stopped them from extending their advantage.

The result lifts the Magpies back up to 10th, while the Blues' relegation concerns are not quite over as they sit 16th, four points above the drop zone.

Alex McLeish, deprived of Craig Gardner through suspension and Nikola Zigic with a hip injury, was missing his two top scorers, and opted to play set up with just a single striker, Cameron Jerome, and five in midfield.

Newcastle kept faith with the side humbled the previous weekend at Anfield, with the sole change being Steven Taylor replacing Mike Williamson after the defender broke his arm in training.

For 35 minutes it looked as if both sides were largely content to play out a drab end-of-season draw, with Birmingham's robust defence holding up well against the Magpies attack.

But in a remarkable few moments the game changed completely.

Joey Barton's corner found Ameobi, whose header was cleared off the line and into Fabio Coloccini's path. The Argentine's point-blank shot took was brilliantly saved on to the post by Foster, and as Coloccini headed the rebound back towards goal Ridgewell used his arm to knock the ball away from the onrushing Kevin Nolan.

Referee Chris Foy saw it, and had no hesitation awarding a penalty and dismissing the Birmingham defender.

Ameobi's penalty was firmly struck low to the left and too good for Foster, who guessed the direction correctly.

Birmingham, previously so solid defensively, became ragged, and could have conceded again almost immediately.

A magnificent back-heeled flick from Nolan released Peter Lovenkrands, whose shot was expertly saved by Foster - and the goalkeeper was once more the hero moments later as moments later Nolan himself unleashed a ferocious shot from 10 yards which somehow Foster palmed over the bar.

But from the resulting Barton corner neither he nor Sebastian Larsson defending on the line could do anything to keep out Taylor's header, giving the centre-half his first top flight goal in just shy of two years.

That could have spelt the end for 10-man Birmingham, but they were gifted a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when Fabio Coloccini missed a header to a long ball forward. Jean Beausejour pounced, going past Tim Krul and looking set to score, but just as he lost control of the ball Lee Bowyer arrived to drill the ball past the despairing defenders.

In the second half the game reverted to type as Birmingham reorganised and Newcastle probed - without great penetration.

Second half substitute Nile Ranger came closest to extending the Magpies' lead, with his cut in from the left and shot well saved by Foster with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Ranger almost laid on a late goal for Ameobi after another impressive run to create a chance which Ameobi craftily chipped on target, only to see Roger Johnson get back in time on the line.

While the hosts failed to find the third Birmingham always had half a chance of pinching an equaliser, and Krul nearly handed them that chance in the final 10 minutes as he spilled a cross at Larsson's feet - but the midfielder could not keep his shot from looping over the bar.

And had they managed the draw they would scarcely have deserved it, having been outplayed throughout by the Magpies.

Mark Patterson / Eurosport

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