Alan Pardew admits he is targeting a top 10 finish after Newcastle’s 2-1 win over Birmingham lifted them into the top half of the table.Newcastle have two matches in which to stay there this season following a victory over a lacklustre Birmingham side.
Shola Ameobi’s penalty after Liam Ridgewell was sent off for handling on the line and Steven Taylor’s goals were enough to win it for Newcastle, although Birmingham did pull one back through Lee Bowyer.
And Pardew said: “I am very pleased because it has been a very difficult week at the training ground, especially after Liverpool beat us last week.”
“We lost our focus. We had our own little rally and we focused for this game. Losing would have made things a bit jittery and spoilt our good work.”
“But we were focused today and although Birmingham tried to nullify us, we were patient and I knew our time would come. It came with a flurry too – it was a definite penalty but maybe the red was debatable.”
“We could have had four goals. One little lapse from one of our players of the season in Fabricio Coloccini gave them a lift, but we were professional in the second half. We created enough chances for the next goal but it is not too disappointing.”
And Pardew now wants to end the season on a high by remaining in the top half.
“I am delighted with 44 points and we can dream for a top 10 finish now. We have worked really hard,” Pardew said.
Alec McLeish admitted he had no complaints with Newcastle’s penalty but thought Taylor was lucky not to get a red card of his own.
“It hit (Ridgewell’s) arm and he was on the line. The referee has seen the arm go towards the ball and that is a penalty, as that’s the rule,” he said.
“I am disappointed but we were soft at corners. They had too many free headers. Ben Foster worked wonders to keep the header out for the first goal but then we conceded a penalty from it.”
“It was a penalty and that’s the rules. It was going across the face of goal and he handled it.”
But Birmingham manager McLeish was disappointed not to see Taylor sent off for an alleged elbow on Cameron Jerome.
He added: “Steven Taylor should have been sent off for an elbow but the ref didn’t see it, unfortunately. That type of challenge is outlawed.”