Relentless rain, a hissy fit from Papiss Cisse and yet another booking for Cheik Tiote seemed to be adding up to a bad afternoon for Newcastle United when, not for the first time, Shola Ameobi came to their rescue.
The substitute’s superlative late goal gave Alan Pardew’s side only their second win in the last 12 games while consigning Harry Redknapp to his first defeat since succeeding Mark Hughes as QPR’s manager.
When someone spotted Redknapp chatting on his mobile phone in the away dug-out you wondered if QPR’s manager was multi-tasking. Granted he was probably talking to a coach in the stands about some tactical nuance or other but, being Redknapp, the possibility could not be discounted that the conversation related to January transfer business. Who knows it might even have been one of Demba Ba’s representatives on the other end trying to get the pay rise seeking Newcastle United striker a move to Loftus Road after all?
Perhaps Redknapp was simply bored. Admittedly a heavy pitch soaked by incessant rain and hardly conducive to zippy passing or dynamic acceleration did not help but neither goalkeeper was required to make a significant first half save.
The start of the second period at last saw Tim Krul needing to dive smartly to push Djibril Cisse’s shot away from a corner following Adel Taarbat’s lovely dribble and through pass. Although Newcastle had, collectively, enjoyed slightly the better of the game’s early stages, the best individual cameos belonged to Taarabt.
In contrast little went right for Papiss Cisse and, immediately after he missed a decent headed chance from a Jonas Gutierrez cross both the Senegal striker and Gutierrez were replaced by Shola Ameobi and Gabriel Obertan.
Cisse’s body language screamed seriously miffed and, muttering darkly to himself, he initially declined to shake Pardew’s out-stretched hand before checking back and making fleeting contact. A mini temper tantrum characterised by some full on ranting and raving followed when he took his seat at the back of the dug-out. It will have been of little consolation to him that the double substitution was greeted by boos from an increasingly frustrated, not to mention, sodden home crowd.
Worse was to follow for Pardew when Cheik Tiote collected a booking for a foul on Shaun Wright-Phillips. The Ivorian’s latest yellow card means he will miss Newcastle’s Boxing Day trip to Manchester United.
Back on the pitch, Pardew’s players were piling the pressure on but rarely looking really incisive. It did not help that Ba, a key dressing room influence, insisted on taking all their free kicks only to make horrible messes of them.
Things seemed grim when Davide Santon and Sylvain Marveaux combined to set up Ameobi. It was far from a straightforward opening but the veteran striker met it by showing off his subtle side. After stepping inside Taarabt adroitly and switching the ball from his right to his left foot Ameobi beat Green with a beaitfully weighted, carefully angled shot curled into the far corner.