Ba spoils Hughton return
Demba Ba scored the only goal of a tight contest as Newcastle edged out Norwich 1-0 to leave Chris Hughton still without a win this season.
Last Updated: 23/09/12 6:06pm
Demba Ba scored the only goal of a tight contest as Newcastle United edged out Norwich City 1-0 to leave their former manager Chris Hughton still without a Premier League win this season.
Hughton was given a warm reception on his return to St James' Park and Norwich started the game strongly, but it was Newcastle who took the lead against the run of play in the 19th minute when Ba slotted a cool finish past John Ruddy after expertly controlling Hatem Ben Arfa's defence-splitting pass.
The Magpies had an opportunity to double their advantage on the stroke of half-time after Steve Morison conceded a penalty for a shove on Mike Williamson, but Papiss Cisse blazed his spot-kick high into the stands.
Norwich kept battling after the interval as Newcastle struggled to find their best form, but Steve Harper pulled off a fine save to deny Andrew Surman and the Canaries were unable to find an equaliser.
Alan Pardew's side were guilty of once again starting slowly as Norwich arrived determined not to allow them to have it all their own way.
City might have been ahead within five minutes had Wes Hoolahan not headed straight at defender Steven Taylor after full-back Javier Garrido had played a one-two with Surman on the left and crossed.
The outlet provided by Surman and Garrido down that side prompted Pardew for the second time in a week to switch right-back James Perch and midfielder Vurnon Anita and, although that stemmed the tide to a degree, Robert Snodgrass was also prospering down the right to keep the Magpies' defence on their toes throughout.
But as the game wore on, the home side found their feet as an attacking force and with Ben Arfa causing all kinds of problems for Garrido and Davide Santon repeatedly stretching Russell Martin, they began to create chances.
They might have taken the lead with 18 minutes gone had Cisse made a meaningful connection with Yohan Cabaye's free-kick at the near post with Perch seeing his effort from the rebound blocked.
However, they were in front seconds later after Ben Arfa produced a moment of sheer class.
The Frenchman cut inside from the left before sliding the perfect pass into the path of Ba, who calmly slotted past the advancing Ruddy.
But to their credit, Norwich refused to fold and Mike Williamson had to be in the right place at the right time to clear Snodgrass' header off the line following good work by Hoolahan.
Ben Arfa brilliance
Cisse passed up another good opportunity 13 minutes before the break when he missed his kick from Santon's near-post cross, and Cabaye smashed the loose ball just wide, while Ba failed to make the most of more brilliance from Ben Arfa when he miscontrolled his pass in front of goal after the winger had embarrassed Surman.
But the Magpies should have extended their lead in first-half injury-time when, after striker Morison had barged into Williamson inside the Norwich penalty area, referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot.
Ben Arfa, who struck from 12 yards during the opening day victory over Tottenham, immediately grabbed the ball, but was persuaded to hand it over to Cisse, whose need for a goal was plain for all to see.
But the Senegal international skied his effort high over the bar, in the process earning Ben Arfa a tirade from assistant manager John Carver with Pardew sitting high in the stands as he served out his touchline ban.
Carver's wrath might have been incurred once again within two minutes of the restart when Hoolahan turned the ball perfectly into Surman's path to put him through on goal.
Harper was quickly off his line and the 37-year-old got down superbly to make a vital block as the midfielder attempted to lift a shot over him with the outside of his left foot.
Newcastle were struggling to find their rhythm once again, and Jonas Gutierrez had to get a block on a 53rd-minute Snodgrass effort with Santon clearing Morison's header at the far post from the resulting corner.
Ben Arfa prompted a fine diving save by Ruddy three minutes later as the Magpies stepped up a gear with Taylor and Cabaye going close in quick succession.
Williamson headed a Cabaye corner straight at Ruddy five minutes later and the keeper claimed Ba's weak 83rd-minute effort as Newcastle negotiated their way nervously, but safely, to the final whistle, although substitute Gabriel Obertan was left nursing the after-effects of a robust challenge from Michael Turner.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Norwich City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||3|
|10||Shots off Target||4|
|59.7||1st Half Poss.||40.3|
|47.4||2nd Half Poss.||52.6|