What striker crisis?
It took less than two minutes for Peter Lovenkrands to disprove Alan Pardew's theory that Birmingham City would prove to be hard to breakdown, when his slick finish put Newcastle 1-0 up after a great ball from Gutierrez. Pardew sent the same eleven out for the third game in a row, and despite his words that it would be a tough game, his side started on fire with Enrique again in irresistable form.
It was Enrique's driving run which helped create the early goal, after turning Larsson near the halfway line, he thundered past ex-Mag Stephen Carr before whipping a ball into the box. That was cleared only as far as Gutierrez and the Argentine answered critics who question his contribution in the final third, when his left foot cross was met superbly by Lovenkrands at the near post, steering his half volley past the stranded Ben Foster.
The game was played out in torrential conditions but Newcastle's performance shone through with another good number of heartening displays from players in black and white. The first half had few other clear cut chances although Harper saved well from Zigic but both teams were restricted otherwise and the visitors went in with the goal advantage.
The second half started with Newcastle in the driving seat again and Gutierrez turned provider for the second time five minutes in. Again on his weaker foot, his cross was met well by Leon Best who steered his header into the top corner to make it 2-1.
And from then on in, it was another convincing performance with the ball played on the deck by the visiting side and seeing out the game fairly comprehensively, although the home side stuggled to make any impact, that was due as much to the dominance of the visitors as it was their inability to create chances of their own.
Following the stalemate at Blackburn, a number of supporters (including yours truly) questioned where the goals might come from. Shame on us for a lack of belief, but the same can't be said for Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best. Backing their confident words with actions, they've proved perhaps there is life after Andy Carroll.
The reality is that the current striking options are limited in terms of what they offer over a longer period of time. Certainly, Lovenkrands form was greatly improved from what we've seen of late. The much maligned Leon Best looked ungainly and ineffective first half but once again showed glimpses of potential and grabbed another crucial goal. How much more before the slightly tongue-in-cheek tributes of affection, ring true with genuine respect?
'Goals and points count' was my statement after the Blackburn game and while they've been criticised for past performances, there was nothing questionable about last nights game. A difficult place to pick up points, despite the home side being off form on the night. Plenty to be pleased about and plenty to be proud about and with another 3 points on the board and a step closer to safety, thankfully plenty less to be worried about.
Harper 7, Simpson 7, Williamson 7, Coloccini 7, Enrique 8, Barton 7, Tiote 8, Nolan 7, Gutierrez 8 Campbell n/a, Lovenkrands 7, Best 7.
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