Alan Pardew hails Newcastle strikers following victory

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew heaped praise on strikers Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best as they helped their side to a first victory since the departure of Andy Carroll to Liverpool.

Lovenkrands and Best were both on target in a comfortable 2-0 success over a jaded- looking Birmingham at rainswept St Andrew's last night.

It lifted the Magpies into ninth spot in the Barclays Premier League, while the end of City's recent revival leaves them only three points above the relegation zone.

Pardew said: "I think it was evident that the players we have can fill the gap after Carroll.

"The pleasing thing is that the two strikers showed effort and commitment despite the pressure that is on them.

"One (Lovenkrands) came off with a thigh strain and the other (Best) had to be substituted because of the amount of work he was doing.

"But for them both to score from open play is the biggest plus for me."

Pardew was delighted with the way his players started the game and they seldom loosened their grip.

He said: "We came into this game with momentum after our draws against Arsenal and Blackburn and it was really about getting the start right.

"We started faster and that made the difference and we also passed the ball well on a tricky surface."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish felt his side's recent heavy programme took its toll on the Carling Cup finalists.

In addition he will be anxiously assessing the fitness of defenders Martin Jiranek and Liam Ridgewell in the next 24 hours.

McLeish will be hoping the duo can recover for the Carling Cup final in 12 days' time with Jiranek seeming to be the biggest cause for concern.

McLeish said: "Jiranek had an injection in his toe at half-time and he has come off with a thigh problem and hopefully he's not pulled a muscle.

"With Ridgewell, I don't know how he's going to be over the next 48 hours.

"He looked as if he had a bit of cramp. We thought he'd pulled a muscle at first when he limped off.

"Are they doubtful for the final? I can't give you that answer now. There's no way we can diagnose something like that after a game."

McLeish added: "We've had a fantastic month really in terms of results since the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"There have been some inspired performances but against Newcastle we looked a bit flat.

"I think there was a bit of fatigue. One or two players looked a bit tired and I am not going to hammer the players after one performance like that."

Lovenkrands converted a low cross from the impressive Jose Enrique and then Best headed home a centre from Jonas Gutierrez four minutes into the second half to seal the points.



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