sport

Ameobi: Newcastle are united

Striker Shola Ameobi insists Newcastle remain in good spirits despite their miserable run in the Premier League.

The Magpies suffered a fifth successive league defeat for the first time when they went down 2-1 to Swansea at St James' Park on Saturday to heap further pressure on manager Alan Pardew and his players.

They have now lost 12 of the 17 league games they have played since Boxing Day, when they were looking at an assault on the top six rather than scrapping to achieve their target of finishing in the upper half of the table.

Asked if everyone was still together within the camp, Ameobi said: "Yes, the dressing room is.

"It's been tough for us, obviously, but one thing that has remained is that spirit to want to work hard for each other and to fight, to keep on fighting despite the adversity that we have faced in the last few games.

"I thought we showed character there. It was always going to be a tough match - the fans, obviously, were expecting better from us and for the large part, I thought we did that.

"But it's just again a failure to put teams away and to stop conceding. Essentially we failed again and we lost another game."

Pardew's best-laid plans had to be torn up within minutes of kick-off when, after starting with three central defenders and three strikers, he lost two of his frontmen to injury before half-time.

There was some respite when Ameobi brought a welcome end to Newcastle's goal drought after a depressing six hours and 23 minutes, knocking in his first league goal since December 2012.

With Luuk de Jong following Papiss Cisse to the treatment table shortly afterwards, worse news was soon to follow.

Wilfried Bony nodded in the equaliser just before the interval and then stole the headlines in injury time with a penalty to steal the points and demoralise the home fans.

Ameobi added: "Unfortunately, we have had a few too many of these as of late. Again, we went into the game full of spirit and wanting to fight and give everything for a win.

"We started off great, getting a goal, but we were hit by two later sucker-punches at the end of each half, which is very frustrating."

The victory eased Swansea six points clear of the drop zone with three games to play, and that, rather than taking his personal tally for the season to 22 goals, was the most pleasing aspect of the trip to Tyneside for Bony.

Asked if it was his most important contribution to date, he told the Swans' website: "You can say that because it gave us three points that were crucial.

"I was just focusing on two things: one was to score, and the other was looking back at the time on the clock to see how long we had left to play. There were no nerves. I practised in training a few days ago and it's always the same - the only thing that changes is what side to go.

"It's always good when you score in the last minute, but when the team wins, it's fantastic."