St. James' Park
Barclays Premier League
By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Ameobi 81)
Queens Park Rangers 0
Substitute Shola Ameobi stepped off the bench to fire Newcastle United to three huge Premier League points, with a 1-0 home win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday afternoon.
The long-serving striker curled home with time running out to hand the Magpies a perfect early Christmas present, netting his first league goal of the season in the process.
Despite the late nature of the result, United were well worth the victory, having dominated the Hoops from start to finish but struggling to find any sort of breakthrough.
In torrential conditions, United made a bright start to proceedings, with Cisse heading into the side netting and a couple of crosses just evading their intended targets.
The hosts forced corner after corner and bombarded the Rangers box with crosses, but were unable to break down a stubborn visiting defence.
Despite the lion's share of possession and some excellent passing on a slick St. James' Park surface, it took until the 36th minute for the Magpies to carve out a real goalscoring opportunity.
A superb one-two between Ba and Cisse released the latter inside the box, but the Senegalese front man stabbed wide under pressure from Fabio.
Ba then thumped a couple of 25-yard free-kicks into the Gallowgate End, failing to even get close to troubling Hoops stopper Robert Green, while with half-time approaching Perch curled one narrowly off target, having been set up nicely by Vurnon Anita.
Djibril Cisse was inches away from breaking the deadlock within a couple of minutes of the restart. Adel Taarabt waltzed through a handful of challenges before freeing the front man, whose low strike was turned round the post by Tim Krul.
On the hour mark United should have been ahead. Ba released Jonas Gutierrez down the left flank and the Argentine's first time cross was sent onto the forehead of Cisse at the far post.
However, the forward was unable to keep his effort down, nodding wildly off target in what was to prove his final touch of the afternoon, replaced immediately by Ameobi, with Gabriel Obertan also coming on in place of Gutierrez.
Newcastle were trying to force a way through the visitors' rearguard, and an Anita free-kick caused chaos in the penalty area, before the same player almost curled a corner straight in.
Anita then turned provider, only for Ameobi to head his driven cross down into the turf and wide of the upright from eight yards.
Obertan had been out of action with a toe injury but carved out a chance for Ba when he strode down the left and delivered for United's leading scorer to head tamely at Green.
And with nine minutes remaining the Magpies finally got their reward for almost constant pressure, as Ameobi cut in from the right and curled a low left-footed strike into the far corner.
Having scored once, it was almost immediately two. Defending a corner one second, the hosts were on the front foot seconds later, with Marveaux played in by Anita and racing forward before stinging the palms of Green with a fierce drive.
The Frenchman went agonisingly close again on 87 minutes, sending a free-kick right on the edge of the box a lick of paint the wrong side of the upright.
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; James Perch, Cheick Tiote (Sylvain Marveaux 77), Vurnon Anita; Papiss Cisse (Shola Ameobi 61), Demba Ba, Jonas Gutierrez (Gabriel Obertan 60)
Queens Park Rangers (4-3-3): Robert Green; Anton Ferdinand, Ryan Nelsen, Clint Hill, Fabio Da Silva; Esteban Granero (Shaun Wright-Phillips 56), Stephane Mbia, Alejandro Faurlin (Shaun Derry 79); Jamie Mackie, Djibril Cisse (Junior Hoilett 64), Adel Taarabt
Subs not used: Brian Murphy, Armand Traore, Samba Diakite, Nedum Onuoha
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Bookings: Newcastle - Tiote (63), Perch (88), Ameobi (90); Queens Park Rangers - Ferdinand (42), Hill (86)
Attendance: 50,180 (922 QPR)