Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
PUBLISHED: 17:17 23 September 2012 | UPDATED: 17:20 24 September 2012
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Chris Hughton’s return to Newcastle ended in disappointment as Norwich City went down to a first-half goal by Demba Ba at St James’ Park.
Defeat left the Canaries with just three points from their opening five Premier League games under their new boss, and only two league goals to show for their efforts so far.
The decisive goal came after 19 minutes when Ba beat the offside trap from Hatem Ben Arfa’s pass and produced a cool finish, and Newcastle would have been 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time but for a dreadful penalty miss by Papiss Cisse.
Steve Morison was adjudged to have shoved defender Mike Williamson over in the penalty area, but Cisse blazed his spot-kick over the bar.
City had gone close early on when the recalled Wes Hoolahan had a header deflected wide off Steven Taylor, and they were even closer to an equaliser before the break when a header from Robert Snodgrass was nodded off the line by Williamson.
They might have levelled again two minutes into the second half, when Steve Harper saved from Andrew Surman, but never did quite enough after that to salvage a point.
Hughton made two changes to his starting line-up with Hoolahan and Steve Morison making their first Premier League starts of the season in place of Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson, both of whom were on the bench.
Anthony Pilkington recovered from a groin injury to take his place among the substitutes, where goalkeeper Mark Bunn, defender Ryan Bennett and midfielder Alex Tettey also came into the 18.
Marc Tierney, David Fox and Harry Kane were the men to miss out from those on duty against West Ham.
Russell Martin was handed the captain’s armband with Holt named among the substitutes.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew made seven changes from the Europa League tie against Maritimo, but only one change from Monday’s Premier League draw at Everton with two-goal substitute Demba Ba recalled at the expense of Sylvain Marveux.
Hughton made no grand show of returning to the club that sacked him as he took his seat in the dug-out.
Newcastle pushed forward first and a cross from Santon had to be dealt with, but it was City who carved out the first real chance in the fifth minute.
Garrido played a one-two with Surman on the left and his cross was met with a diving header by the recalled Hoolahan that was deflected wide for a corner.
There was a delay while Bassong needed treatment after taking a knock as he and Barnett challenged Ba for the corner as it came over.
It was clear there was a problem and with just eight minutes gone, Bassong, who appeared to be clutching his hamstring, made way for Turner, the former Sunderland man getting a cool reception from the Newcastle crowd.
City were enjoying a bright spell and when Johnson, with his left hand bandaged, swung in a dangerous cross, Harper had to punch clear under pressure.
Martin was next to take a whack as he went down on the right touchline after a challenge by Gutierrez, but he was up quickly and the resulting free-kick from Snodgrass was a poor one.
Newcastle were soon pushing forward, however, and took the lead in the 19th minute when Ba scored for the third time in two games.
It was a superb through-ball from Ben Arfa that split the City rearguard and Ba, beating the offside trap, controlled it swiftly before tucking a right-foot shot neatly past Ruddy.
The home side were lifted by the goal and City were on the back foot, but they almost levelled with a swift counter-attack on 27 minutes when Hoolahan crossed from the left and a goalbound header from Snodgrass was headed off the line by Williamson.
Barnett had to clear under pressure as a cross from Anita threatened more trouble for City, and then Turner slid across the area to clear as Taylor headed a centre back across the six-yard box.
Cisse miscued from a Santon cross but City had to be grateful as Cabaye, following up, blazed into the crowd.
A fine piece of work by Ben Arfa, who nutmegged Surman and homed in on goal, almost put Ba in again, but the striker just mistimed his run.
There was drama as the clock ticked round to 45 minutes when referee Swarbrick pointed to the spot as Williamson tumbled in the box under challenge from Morison.
It seemed a soft penalty but as the half entered stoppage time, there was relief for the Canaries when Cisse blazed the spot-kick high over the top.
• Half-time: Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
Two minutes after the break, the Canaries could have been level as Hoolahan controlled a dropping ball superbly and played Surman clean through against Harper, but the keeper came out smartly to block the midfielder’s effort.
Williamson headed wide from a Cabaye free-kick as Newcastle threatened for the first time since the interval
Morison got his head to a Snodgrass corner but his attempt was cleared as far as Surman, who volleyed wide from the rebound. Hoolahan then brought Harper into action again but his half-volley was dealt with comfortably.
Ten minutes into the half, Ruddy produced a fine save to prevent Ben Arfa making it 2-0 as he dived to his left to push the midfielder’s 25-yard drive past the post.
Hoolahan volleyed wide after a knock-down by Morison as the game approached the hour mark.
Cisse might have done better than strike a fairly tame shot at Ruddy after moving on to Perch’s pass ahead of the trailing Barnett.
Williamson had another free header from Cabaye’s corner but thankfully for City, Ruddy was right behind it.
Snodgrass and Perch both needed attention after a nasty collision midway into the Newcastle half, but play restarted with a Norwich free-kick.
City had another free-kick when Anita fouled Hoolahan, but this time Santon headed clear from Garrido’s kick.
With 20 minutes left, there was a double change as Cisse made way for Obertan and Morison was replaced by Holt.
Surman headed wide from Hoolahan’s cross as City continued to look for the equaliser.
Newcastle made a second change with a quarter of an hour left as Tiote replaced Anita.
City made their final change eight minutes from time when Surman made way for Jackson, but the hosts almost stretched their lead seconds later when Ruddy saved again, from Ba.
Ben Arfa was replaced by Shola Ameobi with five minutes to go as Newcastle made their last change.
City had another opportunity from a corner but Snodgrass overhit his kick and Turner glanced his header well wide.
Howson was booked two minutes from time for chopping down Tiote, possibly revenge for an earlier challenge by Tiote on Johnson. It was City’s first yellow card of the season.
Tiote fouled Turner a minute later and he too was booked.
Turner and Obertan clashed just inside the Norwich half as the game entered four minutes of stoppage time.
Ruddy saved from Obertan in the last minute of added time as Newcastle looked to wrap things up.
• Newcastle United: Harper; Perch, Williamson, Steven Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi, 85), Anita (Tiote, 76), Cabaye, Gutierrez; Cisse (Obertan, 70), Ba. Subs (not used): Elliot, Tavernier, Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Barnett, Bassong (Turner, 8), Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Surman (Jackson, 82); Hoolahan; Morison (Holt, 70). Subs (not used): Bunn, Ryan Bennett, Tettey, Pilkington.
• Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
• Attendance: 49,402
• Goal: Newcastle: Ba (19)
• Bookings: Newcastle: Tiote (89). City: Howson (88)
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