Newcastle Utd 2: Ameobi 6, Bowyer 44
Birmingham 1: Heskey 64
Final Update: 90mins (3pm kick off)
United: Given, Taylor, Hughes, Bramble, Bernard, Robert (Milner 63) Jenas, Bowyer, Dyer, Bellamy (N'Zogbia 76) Ameobi Subs (not used): Harper, Ambrose,O'Brien,
Birmingham: Taylor, Melchiot, Cunningham (Yorke 84), Upson, Tebily (Gray 25), Lazaridis, Savage, Carter (Anderton 63), Johnson, Heskey, Morrison Subs (not used): Clapham, Vaesen,
Referee: Rob Styles
GRAEME Souness named the same side that were beaten by Arsenal in midweek for the New Year's Day game with Birmingham at St. James' Park.
Alan Shearer was ruled out with a tight calf after initially being pencilled in to return from a thigh injury, while there was no place in the 16 for Stephen Carr who was also not ready to return.
United kicked off attacking the Gallowgate End, and Bellamy won a corner on the right two minutes into the game but Robert's deep flag kick was too strong for Taylor at the back post.
Bramble then picked out bellamy on the right with a great diagonal ball, but the Welshman's cross was cut out by Tebily as Ameobi tried to get into space inside the box.
On six minutes United took the lead, and it was bellamy who was the architect with a great ball in from the right after teasing Tebily, and it was Ameobi who was well positioned to nod the ball home from close range.
There was a huge scramble on 10 minutes when Robert sent a low ball across the face of goal, but Upson blocked the ball on the line and after Bellamy and Ameobi tried to wrestle the ball back the referee blew for a free kick to the visitors.
Taylor then tipped a Bowyer strike around his post for a corner after Savage slipped to let the former Leeds midfielder break away, and the goalkeeper gathered Robert's inswinger.
Bellamy was twisting Tebily inside out in the opening exchanges, and he won another corner off the full back on 16 minutes, but Bowyer's delivery went straight out of play.
Taylor then pulled off another good save, diving low to his left to tip away Bowyer's effort after Robert slid a through ball to him, but again the corner was claimed by the goalkeeper.
Morrison won Birmingham's first corner on 23 minutes, and after united only managed to clear as far as the egde of the box the visitors won another corner on the opposite side which Ameobi nodded away from the near post.
City made a change on 25 minutes with Julian Gray replacing Tebily. It was uncl;ear whether Tebily was injured, but he had been given a torrid time by Bellamy on the Newcastle right and when the change was made Lazaridis went to left back with Gray on the left side of midfield.
Heskey saw a weak header easily saved by Given, then Ameobi's blushes were spared by the linesman's flag when he failed to connect with Dyer's pass three yards from goal on 27 minutes.
Savage got the first booking of the match for a late lunge on Bernard on the left touchline on 35 minutes, then heskey was booked on 42 minutes for a trip on Jenas just outsode the entre circle.
A minute before the break United made it 2-0, with Bowyer slotting the ball home from Robert's cross after Melchiot slipped in the right back spot to give the Frenchman time and space to slide the ball across the middle.
After a quiet opening to the second half, Ameobi carved out a chance chesting down a ball from Bramble and with his second touch volleyd just over from 25 yards.
Lazaridis then broke down the left flank on 55 miuntes before crossing to Morrison in the United penalty area, however the Birmingham striker's header was tippped over for a corner by his Ireland team mate Given.
It was Morrison again five minutes later turning Hughes on thr left hand side of thre box, but the forwards shot was held by Given.
Moments later Robert shot over from the edge of the box after a right side corner by Bowyer. That was the Frenchman's last touch as he was replaced by Milner on 63 miuntes.
On 64 minutes Heskey pulled a goal back fireing home from just inside the box after being set up by strike partner Morrison.
Savage had a shot saved by Given a minute after City levelled, then Anderton won a corner off Bernard but Upson could not keep his shot down from the former England midfielder's corner kick.
On 76 minutes Charles N'zogbia replaced Bellamy who looked to have picked up an injury. N'Zogbia moved to the left wing with Milner partnering Ameobi in atack as United reverted to 4-4-2.
United had a good spell of pressure with Milner having two low crossess cleared and Dyer was crowded out on the edge of the area as United went looking for a third goal.
Bernard was booked for handball on 81 minutes, then moments later Melchiot headed straight at Shay Given as United failed to clear.
Then on 83 miuntes Anderton shot high over the bar after good forward play by Morrison., then with just over six minutes to play Birmingham made their third and final chance with Dwight Yorke replacing Cunningham.
In the 89th miunte Dyerr was desperartly unluckly to see his 18 yard drive bounce back off the bar, then moments later Bowyer drove a shot just wide after some great work by Jenas.
Two minutes of time were added on at the end but United held on to take the vital three points.