Ameobi on target to shoot down Owls

Newcastle United 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0
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The Independent Football

Shola Ameobi proved Newcastle's matchwinner once again as the Magpies climbed into third place in the Championship table last night.

The 27-year-old scored for the fourth time in five days after his hat-trick against Reading to put his club level on points with leaders Cardiff and second-placed Middlesbrough and marginally behind on goal difference.

Ameobi struck after just 15 minutes, although Newcastle were unable to find a second goal and it took good saves by Steve Harper from former Sunderland full-back Michael Gray and substitute Francis Jeffers to ensure all three points.

It was the first time Sheffield Wednesday had been to St James' Park since their ill-fated visit in September 1999, when Sir Bobby Robson's first home game as Magpies manager ended in a thumping 8-0 victory over the Owls. Chris Hughton handed loan signing Danny Simpson a debut at right-back as Ryan Taylor moved into midfield to replace Joey Barton.

It was they who took the lead when Andy Carroll helped on Harper's clearance and Ameobi controlled before half-volleying superbly inside keeper Lee Grant's left post.

Grant did keep out Ameobi's header from a Ryan Taylor corner, and although Owls striker Jermaine Johnson repeatedly caused problems for Fabricio Coloccini – he set up James O'Connor for a shot which Nolan had to block – the home side largely held sway before the break.

Ryan Taylor almost wrapped up the win after the restart when, after Sean McAllister had been penalised for a foul on Jonas Gutierrez, he forced Grant into a fine save.

But Wednesday rallied and Harper was called upon to make his first save of the game from Gray's free-kick. Harper then had to dive bravely at Jeffers' feet with four minutes left after full-back Tommy Spurr had played the striker in behind the home defence.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, S Taylor (Guthrie, 89), Coloccini, Jose Enrique; R Taylor, Nolan, Smith, Gutierrez; Ameobi (Ranger, 87), Carroll (Xisco, 58). Substitutes not used: Krul (gk), Geremi, LuaLua, Kadar.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Grant; Buxton, Wood, Purse, Spurr, Gray (Miller, 73), Potter, O'Connor (Jeffers, 80), McAllister (Esajas, 73), Johnson, Tudgay. Substitutes not used: O'Donnell (gk), Hinds, Beevers, Simek.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).