The Senegalese striker has proven to be the Magpies’ saviour in recent weeks salvaging a draw against Everton a fortnight ago and scoring the winner against Norwich last week.
Manager Alan Pardew, who signed a new eight-year deal on Thursday, was indebted to Ba again as former club Reading came within a whisker of putting three points on the board for the first time since their promotion to the top-flight.
Brian McDermott will view this as a missed opportunity as his side failed to take advantage of a heedless performance from the visitors who should have been behind before the break.
Pavel Pogrebnyak went the closest with a header from Jobi McAnuff’s cross that was tipped over by Steve Harper before Nicky Shorey volleyed over from close range as the game remained goalless heading into half time. It was a different story after the restart as Reading capitalised on Newcastle’s misfortune to take the lead through Jimmy Kebe.
As the Magpies struggled to cope with a defensive reshuffle after the injured Steven Taylor was replaced by 20-year-old James Tavernier the Royals broke the deadlock as Kebe controlled McAnuff’s cross, cut inside and squeezed a shot just inside Harper’s near post. That sparked the visitors into life and within a minute they were level as Ba spectacularly volleyed past Alex McCarthy after being found by Cheick Tiote.
Noel Hunt then put Reading back in front almost immediately glancing home McAnuff’s cross and put his side on course for that elusive first win. But once again they were pegged back by Ba, albeit in controversial circumstances, as he appeared to convert Shane Ferguson’s cross with his arm.