Ameobi realises his Tino-inspired dream
EVER since witnessing Faustino Asprilla grab a scintillating hat-trick against Barcelona from the St James Park stands almost 12 years ago, it has always been Shola Ameobis dream to head home with the match ball after an appearance for Newcastle United. While scoring all three goals in a Champions League victory was always in his thinking, Ameobi is ot under-estimating the value of his triple in the Championship against Reading. At the age of 27 and with his next birthday on the horizon in October, the Newcastle striker has finally got his wish. After years of injuries, the Nigerian-born Geordie savoured the moment over the weekend, when his goals secured the Magpies first win in the Championship. Given the turmoil which has existed at Newcastle this summer, it is little wonder Ameobi can take so much pleasure in his heroics. His three-goal haul helped to prove in front of a healthy crowd that Newcastle, despite all their troubles, can still actually play. But this is not all about paying tribute to Ameobi for finally showing he has it in him to find the net three times in one match; it is more about acknowledging that there could be a decent team on Tyneside with the potential to do well in the Championship. Despite losing the likes of Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins, Habib Beye and Sebastien Bassong, with Damien Duff and Steven Taylor looking certain to follow, there could still be the base of a decent side at St James Park. The reality, however, is that if the ownership troubles are not sorted quickly, and further additions are not made to the squad soon, any hope of a quick return to the Premier League will quickly disappear as a drive to reduce the clubs wage bill now standing at £48m continues. Provided there are a few more new arrivals, there was enough evidence against Reading to suggest that a push for a top six place is well within reach of a squad still, somehow, capable of turning in a positive display. And despite the distraction of the clubs owner Mike Ashley, who was subjected to regular derogatory chants, sitting alongside potential buyer Barry Moat, Ameobi and his team-mates conjured up a display worthy of three points. Id agree with the suggestion that we have shown togetherness through adversity, said Hughton. Theres different stories each day about the club, about the players and about the players whove left the club. The players here at the moment are doubly determined to ensure we have a good team spirit and theyve been excellent in doing that and thats something we must explain. How Hughton and his assistant, Colin Calderwood, have managed that is unclear, although there does seem to have been an acceptance from within the dressing room that things finally needed to improve. Saturdays 3-0 victory over Reading will count for little if poor results and performances follow against Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace this week. For now, though, confidence should be high in training. We have a saying in the game, its that Monday morning feeling and that feeling is always better after a win for sure, but weve got to make sure we prepare for the games coming up, said Hughton, who claimed he would be happy to do the job for as long as he is asked. Despite the support for Hughton from within the small squad, Saturdays victory was only the second win the caretaker boss has enjoyed during two stints in charge. But at a time when Joe Kinnear, David OLeary and Alan Curbishley have all been linked with the post if Ashley decides not to sell, he has led a threadbare pool of players to four points from an opening two matches in the Championship. After a slow start, and early chants of stand up if you hate Ashley from the stands, Newcastle gradually got more and more of a foothold on proceedings. After Jonas Gutierrez had wasted one glorious chance before being denied a second by goalkeeper Adam Federici, Newcastle eventually took the lead seven minutes before the break. Ameobi worked his way in from the right ahead of fullback Ryan Bertrand and nodded Jose Enriques back post delivery into Federicis far corner. That was the strikers first goal since hitting a penalty against Sunderland in February and a second followed 20 minutes after the restart. Kevin Nolan, who performed well alongside Alan Smith in the middle, did well to keep the ball in play near the corner flag. Joey Barton teed up Ryan Taylor, who delivered a stunning cross to the back post for Ameobi to meet with a fine diving header. It was a terrific move which deserved that sort of finish and, after Federici had tipped another of Ameobis headers over for a corner, the former England Under-21 striker completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot 15 minutes before the end. Hughton said: Theres no doubt hes a good player. He showed his quality. Its well documented that his form has been up and down here at times and of course hes had some injury problems but theres no doubt about his quality. With Ameobis long wait over, all eyes now turn to Ashley. Surely this will be the week when the chaos surrounding the ownership turmoil becomes clearer But dont bet on it.
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