Final Score: Newcastle United 1 Swansea City 2
SO the wait is finally over for a goal, but the wait for a win doesn’t look like ending anytime soon.
Newcastle United had gone 363 minutes without scoring until Shola Ameobi put them in front against Swansea City, but Wilfried Bony’s brace condemned Alan Pardew’s side to a record fifth successive league defeat for the first time in the Premier League.
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The striker – who was linked with a move to St James’ Park before completing his move to the Swans – scored an injury-time penalty to earn his side a vital three points in their quest for safety.
On the other hand, the defeat now means Newcastle are looking over their shoulders in ninth place and a top-ten finish that once looked a dead cert is now hanging dangerously in the balance.
Stoke City lie two points behind the Magpies in tenth, while Crystal Palace’s late season surge means they are now only three points off in 11th.
Not achieving their pre-season objective of a top-ten finish would be detrimental going into an uncertain summer, but even more so for a manager who has had to deal with calls for him to be sacked in recent weeks.
Indeed, supporters’ patience with Pardew is wearing thin, but interestingly there was no real protest against the Magpies boss either during or after the game unlike at Stoke City a week ago.
Fans have grown tired of Pardew’s excuses and inability to take responsibility for their abysmal run and his case hasn’t been helped by Newcastle’s form since he was banished from the dugout for head-butting Hull City’s David Meyler.
Newcastle’s form during which Pardew has served a three-match stadium ban and a four-game touchline ban reads won one, lost six, and his absence from the sidelines has clearly had an affect of their season.
“We’re all sticking together,” Dan Gosling said. “The manager knows he’s got all the lads onside. We respect him as a manager and we respect all the coaches.
“The atmosphere around the training ground is actually okay, but come Saturday afternoon it’s difficult. I think it will be a lot easier when he’s back on the sidelines. “The bad run has coincided with him not being here and it’s hard for him to get messages across. He has been a big miss. People don’t realise that it does affect the team - you need your gaffer on the sidelines, barking orders out.
“That helps us. We’ll be glad when he’s back out there. We need him back down in the dugout and it will good to have him back at the Emirates.”
Whether Pardew’s presence would have made a difference when Chiek Tiote tripped Marvin Emnes in stoppage time remains to be seen, but while the midfielder’s moment of clumsiness ultimately cost them, the Magpies had done relatively little to deserve a win.
Pardew opted to stick with playing three at the back, while further forward he started Papiss Cisse, Luuk de Jong and Ameobi. However, in the early stages, it looked as if the Tynesiders were struggling to cope with the system with the ball completely bypassing midfield in order to reach the strikers quicker.
As early as the tenth minute, the home crowd showed their frustration with Newcastle’s inability to get the ball forward quickly creating a nervy atmosphere inside St James’ Park.
They were forced into a reshuffle when Cisse limped off with a suspected fractured ankle in the 21st minute, but two minutes later, after reverting back to 4-4-2, Ameobi and de Jong combined to give Newcastle the lead.
The former rose above Ashley Williams to flick the ball on to de Jong, who returned the ball back to Ameobi inside the area where he turned to finish past Michel Vorm.
It was the striker’s first goal since December 2012 against Queens Park Rangers, but another injury, this time to de Jong, forced the Magpies into another re-think just before half time.
Loic Remy returned after almost six weeks out, but whatever formation Pardew tries, he can’t seem to get his side out of the rut they have been stuck in since the turn of the year.
Mike Williamson was at fault for Swansea’s equaliser when he lost Bony to head in from Ben Davies’ corner on the stroke of half time, but even with a spell of pressure in the second half, the Magpies couldn’t find any cohesion or cutting edge to get back in front.
It looked as though a flat game would peter out a draw, but in stoppage time a run from former Middlesbrough striker Marvin Emnes forced Tiote into a clumsy foul inside the area with Bony confidently dispatching his spot-kick past Krul to give Swansea a last-gasp win.
“That’s football for you,” Gosling said. “Sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn’t. I think we were the better team. The run that we’re on, the goal that we conceded last week and the manner that we lost, the two goals at the end of both halves is a killer.
“We’ve got eight days until our next game and we have to do a lot of hard work on the training ground. We’ve got a tough week to prepare for Arsenal.
“You try and create your own luck and I’m a big believer in that as well. We pushed but in the end they just caught us. It was our free kick and they broke - it’s schoolboy stuff.
“We need lock in and get better than that and make sure we get men behind the ball. We watched clips of Swansea and knew they were good on the break. It’s cost us dearly.
“The first half was very nervy and I think the fans were on edge as well. That creates a nervous atmosphere for the players.
“I think the fans noticed our efforts in the second half and they backed us all the way in the second half. We need them more than ever now.
“It’s not easy when you can feel the tension. If you play backwards the fans will get on you, but sometimes you’ve got to keep the ball to go forwards. Sometimes going back is the only option and the best option as well. It was difficult in the first half, but we managed to calm down and we were the better team. We were unfortunate to lose the game.”