Saturday 24 September 2011 3pm
Newcastle United 3 (Ba 27, 30, 54)
Blackburn Rovers 1
“The manager said that when I was fit I was going to get my chance and that it was up to me to take it or leave it. You feel happy. I’ve scored my first goals here this season, and I hope they will keep on coming”. Demba Ba
Ah, so that’s where all the goals are going to come from this season. You had me worried for a while back there, hanging onto the £35m like that, you little tinkers. For once, though, the newspaper headlines screaming ‘Newcastle striker in threesome shocker’ was a welcome sight in the aftermath of this convincing victory, against a club whose hierarchy seem even more determined than our own to achieve relegation, ignominy and ultimate extinction in double quick time.
Having fasted diligently during Ramadan, Demba Ba could at least point to the detrimental effect his religious observance was inevitably having on his physical fitness as justification for his poor showing so far (when did Shola convert to Islam?) and the local press lost no time in ‘peppering’ their reports with food references – they’ve even got me doing it now – with tales of ‘Ravenous Demba…feasting on…easy meat…snacking on…service’ and ‘ending the Toon goal famine’. I’ll steer clear of all of that hyperbole myself if it’s all the same to you, wouldn’t want to upset anyone, thank you very much.
Captain Coco strode majestically out of defence with the ball before curling a terrific pass out to Best on the left from just inside his own half. Leon the goal farmer then faced up the defender and swept the ball in to Ba on the edge of the six yard box. After controlling it on his left knee and taking a further touch to kill the ball, he then swivelled and struck a cracking shot past Robinson into the net to bring the crowd to its feet. Brilliant. We might even get a rare Goal of the Month appearance out of it, I thought.
Three minutes later, the ball fell to Simpson on the right inside Blackburn’s half. His flighted cross to the far edge of the area was met by the head of Steven Taylor who, like Coloccini, had stayed upfield following the corner. His header across the box was flicked on by Coco’s marker and Ba, in acres of space at the back post, nodded confidently home to put the result beyond doubt, with Best itching for a nod-in himself behind him.
This being Newcastle of course, nowt’s ever easy and we gifted our clueless opponents a goal back before the break. Ryan Taylor gave the ball away in an advanced area but we still should never have conceded from that position. Blackburn broke quickly as we struggled to regroup and Olsson picked up possession on the left. Simpson seemed to allow him far too much room to cross and a sure first touch and shot from Junior Hoilett then gave Krul no chance from 12 yards out despite the keeper’s best efforts.
Into the second half and Yakubu almost grabbed an undeserved equaliser when he turned a cross onto the top of the bar but we began to breathe easily again just before the hour when Ba completed his hat-trick to make it 3-1. Some typically positive and robust play from Cheik in central midfield ended with him curling a decent cross into the box from out on the left. Ba outjumped the defender and flighted his header towards the far corner. Robinson, Dann and the onrushing Best all came together in a goalline melee which allowed the ball to loop over them all and into the net.
The impressive Cabaye then exchanged passes with Ben Arfa and played a lovely through ball to Best, in a move which ended with the striker skying yet another one over the bar at the Gallowgate End but with chants of ‘Ole!’ ringing in their ears, the lads saw the game out comfortably and our slot in the top four was secured for another week.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez (Sylvain Marveaux 84), Leon Best, Demba Ba (Hatem Ben Arfa 73).
Subs not used: Steve Harper, James Perch, Danny Guthrie, Sammy Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands.
Blackburn Rovers: Paul Robinson, Michel Salgado, Christopher Samba (c), Scott Dann (Ruben Rochina 64), Gael Givet, Junior Hoilett, Steven N’zonzi, Jason Lowe, Martin Olsson, Mauro Formica (Jason Roberts 64), Yakubu (Vince Grella 79).
Subs not used: Mark Bunn, Grant Hanley, Radosav Petrovic, Simon Vukcevic.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 46,236 (1,174 away fans)