By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At Carrow Road
Norwich City 4 (Hoolahan 39, Holt 60, 82, Morison 63)
Newcastle United 2 (Ba 45, 70)
A makeshift Newcastle United side suffered successive defeats for the first time since March as they lost at Norwich.
Already depleted by the absence of captain Fabricio Coloccini and key players like Steven Taylor, Danny Guthrie and Cheik Tiote, the Magpies then lost Dan Gosling to a straight red card.
They were already trailing 3-1 by that point, with United's patched up defence finding the aerial power of the Canaries too much to handle, and despite Demba Ba's well-taken brace the hosts claimed the points.
Ba's goal in first-half stoppage time had cancelled out Wes Hoolahan's opener, which came after a controversially-awarded corner kick for the home side, but Grant Holt and Steve Morison both scored with headers before Gosling saw red for a late challenge on Russell Martin.
And although Ba pulled one back, Holt's second wrapped up the win for Norwich.
With Coloccini failing to recover in time from the thigh injury which forced him off against Chelsea and Taylor ruled out for the season, Danny Simpson played alongside James Perch in the centre of defence as Ryan Taylor moved to right-back and Davide Santon started for the first time in the Barclays Premier League at left-back.
Gosling came in for his first league start of the campaign in midfield, partnering Yohan Cabaye, with Jonas Gutierrez returning on the left and captaining the side. Shola Ameobi slotted in alongside Ba up front.
But despite an early flurry from the hosts, Newcastle took the sting out of the game and fashioned the first real opening of the game.
On ten minutes, Gutierrez's ball was patted out by John Ruddy as far as Ba, who teed up Cabaye just inside the area, but the Frenchman's shot was dealt with comfortably by City's goalkeeper.
At the other end, Holt outmuscled Perch down the right to break into the box, but defensive partner Simpson was there to make a fantastic diving block from the Canaries captain's shot with 19 minutes played before, seconds later, David Fox sent a half-volley over the bar from 25 yards.
Then, after some tidy football at the other end Gosling - who scored twice against Norwich Reserves in September - spread the ball out to the overlapping Taylor before racing into the box to connect to the ensuing delivery, but as he swivelled the ball went just wide.
United then survived two penalty appeals, the first when Andrew Surman fell under the challenge of Obertan and Taylor in the box, then just over a minute later as Kyle Naughton's right-wing delivery hit the outstretched arm of Santon, but on each occasion Martin Atkinson waved them away.
Just after the half-hour mark, Taylor's cross found Ba who brought it down on his chest, only for Naughton to steal the ball off his toe just before the Senegal striker could get a shot away.
Then on 35 minutes, Cabaye's strike took a looping deflection off Fox and looked destined for the net, only for Ruddy to fly to his left and tip the ball behind.
However, the hosts took the lead when Surman's corner was headed goalwards by Andrew Crofts and despite a combination of Krul and Taylor hacking the ball off the line, Hoolahan was there to force home from close range.
But it was a debatable decision which led to the corner in the first place, as Marc Tierney's left-wing cross already seemed to have gone out before Krul was adjudged to have carried it behind.
However, in first-half stoppage time Ba finished superbly with his tenth goal of the season after bringing down Cabaye's lofted ball over the top to equalise.
Then less than two minutes into the second half, Ba almost had a second. A superb run past three players from Obertan saw him lay the ball of to Ameobi, who worked space for a dinked cross to the far post and Ba blazed narrowly over the frame of the goal.
Then on 50 minutes, after Gutierrez had won a free-kick in a dangerous area, Taylor whipped it in, Ruddy flapped and the ball swerved just the wrong side of the far post from a Magpies perspective.
A 25 yard strike from Ba then tested Ruddy once more before, from a swift Newcastle counter-attack from a corner, Obertan squandered a fantastic opportunity to play in Ba, who would have had acres of space to run into.
But against the run of play, City went ahead for a second time on the hour. Hoolahan's corner was met by Whitbread and then Holt, whose header was parried by Krul only for the ball to come straight back to the big striker, who this time dispatched his header right into the corner of the goal.
And three minutes later, Morison made it 3-1 with a fine header after Gosling's loose pass had allowed Crofts to send in an inch perfect cross from the right.
Things got even worse for Newcastle and Gosling when the former Everton man was shown a straight red card in the 65th minute. Having over-ran the ball, he went in late on Martin; an honest attempt to play the ball it may have been, but it was deemed dangerous by referee Atkinson who had no hesitation in sending him off.
The ten men refused to lie down, however, and after Ameobi had robbed Tierney just inside the Norwich half and played a wonderful pass for Ba, United's top scorer showed remarkable composure to advance towards goal and slot home his second of the afternoon.
Then Cabaye's strike took a nick off Fox but Ruddy was able to gather with relative comfort before Obertan tricked his way past Tierney but couldn't guide his cross away from the Canaries keeper.
However, another set-piece ended any hopes of an improbable point for Newcastle as substitute Bradley Johnson's free-kick was headed past Krul by Holt, and Norwich comfortably saw out the final few minutes.
Norwich City (4-4-2): John Ruddy; Kyle Naughton, Zak Whitbread (Leon Barnett 83), Russell Martin, Marc Tierney; David Fox, Andrew Crofts, Andrew Surman (Bradley Johnson 77), Wes Hoolahan (Simoen Jackson 85); Steven Morison, Grant Holt (c)
Subs not used: Declan Rudd, Anthony Pilkington, Elliott Bennett, Aaron Wilbraham
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Ryan Taylor, James Perch, Danny Simpson, Davide Santon (Shane Ferguson 90+2); Gabriel Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 81), Dan Gosling, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez (c); Shola Ameobi (Alan Smith 90), Demba Ba
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, Hatem Ben Arfa, Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)