Pardew strikes it rich

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew hailed strikers Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best after they both scored in Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Birmingham.

The Tyneside club’s decision to sell Andy Carroll to Liverpool on the last day of the January transfer window was the subject of much discussion, with many quick to criticise Pardew after he was left with just four fit strikers on the books – including virtually untried duo Best and Nile Ranger.

When Shola Ameobi – the club’s new number one striker – went down injured just three days after the transfer deadline had passed, Newcastle’s attacking options looked even thinner.

But Best, who now has five English Premier League goals this season, has formed a good partnership with Lovenkrands and Pardew was delighted with the duo after the win at St. Andrew’s.

“It’s about encouraging them and getting what is best for their particular game,” Pardew said.

“They’re not Shola Ameobi and they’re not (Andy) Carroll. They’re different types but we got the best out of them tonight.”

“I’m so pleased for Leon Best. I think there is a bit more pressure on him than Peter (Lovenkrands), because he hasn’t really done a great deal at the club, but he produced a great performance tonight and he can be really proud of that.”

Pardew also heaped praise on his defence, insisting his side had put in a ‘really complete performance’.

“We’ve defended well since I’ve been here and we did that again today,” he said.

“Birmingham are superb at working positions for angled balls into the box and they did that at times to us but we defended them brilliantly. And when we tried to pay our game, I thought we passed it well on a tricky surface. It was a really complete performance by an away team, I’m very pleased with that.”

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish admitted his side were off the pace on Tuesday in a contrast to their recent performances.

“We’ve had a fantastic month really in terms of results since the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford (a 5-0 loss on January 22),” McLeish said.

“There have been some inspired performances but tonight we looked a bit flat. To lose the first goal so easily as we did and so early goes against what we were like at the weekend (against Stoke) when the concentration levels were phenomenal.”

“I think there was a bit of fatigue. One or two players looked a bit tired and I am not going to hammer the players after one performance like that.”