Ameobi: Spirit is still strong
Published 20/04/2014 | 14:07
Striker Shola Ameobi has insisted the Newcastle dressing room remains strong despite a disastrous run of results.
The Magpies slipped to a fifth successive Barclays Premier League defeat for the first time when they went down 2-1 to Swansea at St James' Park on Saturday to heap further pressure on manager Alan Pardew and his players.
They have now lost 12 of the 17 league games they have played since Boxing Day, when they were looking at an assault on the top six rather than scrapping to achieve their target of finishing in the upper half of the table, something which is now far from assured.
However, while many fans are in open revolt, Ameobi is adamant that unity remains intact inside the four walls of St James'.
Asked if everyone was still together within the camp, He said: "Yes, the dressing room is.
"It's been tough for us, obviously, but one thing that has remained is that spirit to want to work hard for each other and to fight, to keep on fighting despite the adversity that we have faced in the last few games.
"I thought we showed character there. It was always going to be a tough match - the fans, obviously, were expecting better from us and for the large part, I thought we did that.
"But it's just again a failure to put teams away and to stop conceding. Essentially we failed again and we lost another game."
Pardew's best-laid plans had to be torn up within minutes of kick-off when, after starting with three central defenders and three strikers, he lost two of his frontmen to injury before half-time.
Referee Chris Foy too failed to make it to the break after being knocked from his feet when Jonjo Shelvey's early shot ricocheted back off Fabricio Coloccini and hit him full in the face.
He was, however, still in charge when Ameobi brought a welcome end to Newcastle's goal drought after a depressing six hours and 23 minutes.
It was he who leapt to head down Tim Krul's clearance to Luuk de Jong and then span on the return pass to beat keeper Michel Vorm for his first league goal since December 2012.
But De Jong was to follow Papiss Cisse down the tunnel shortly afterwards - his ankle problem appears less serious than the knee injury which prompted the Senegal international's premature exit - and there was worse to come for the home side.
The game was deep into injury time at the end of the first half when Wilfried Bony rose to power home Ben Davies' corner, and he was to repeat the feat in added time at the end of the game when, after substitute Marvin Emnes had been felled by Cheick Tiote, he nervelessly converted the penalty to snatch a precious victory.
Ameobi said: "Unfortunately, we have had a few too many of these as of late. Again, we went into the game full of spirit and wanting to fight and give everything for a win.
"We started off great, getting a goal, but we were hit by two later sucker-punches at the end of each half, which is very frustrating."
The victory eased Swansea six points clear of the drop zone with three games to play, and that, rather than taking his personal tally for the season to 22 goals, was the most pleasing aspect of the trip to Tyneside for Bony.
Asked if it was his most important contribution to date, he told the Swans official website, www.swanseacity.net: "You can say that because it gave us three points that were crucial.
"I was just focusing on two things: one was to score, and the other was looking back at the time on the clock to see how long we had left to play.
"There were no nerves. I practised in training a few days ago and it's always the same - the only thing that changes is what side to go.
"It's always good when you score in the last minute, but when the team wins, its fantastic."