Newcastle hopeful of retaining Demba Ba despite contract wrangling
Striker scores twice in victory over Wigan
Newcastle striker Demba Ba underlined his importance to the club after taking his goal tally into double figures by firing the Magpies to a much-needed victory.
The Senegal international struck twice before the break to put 10-man Wigan on the back foot and pave the way for a 3-0 win which ended a sequence of four successive Barclays Premier League defeats.
He did so on the day it emerged that Newcastle's efforts to negotiate a new contract which would remove the infamous escape clause in his current deal have so far come to nothing.
Manager Alan Pardew admitted the clause, which will become active once again in January, remains in place, but is hopeful of hanging on to a man whose goals have proved vital.
Pardew said: "The truth of it is that Demba has got a clause in his contract and it is still hanging over us.
"We have tried to negotiate away and we have not managed to do that as yet.
"But the one thing I will say on a positive note is that he has never, if I am honest, looked me in the eye and looked like he wanted to do anything else but stay here, and I hope he does."
If Ba's contribution proved key to just a second league victory in 10 attempts, referee Mike Jones' early intervention was also crucial.
Newcastle enjoyed a significant slice of good fortune with 12 minutes gone when Jones ruled that Maynor Figueroa's challenge on Papiss Cisse was not only worthy of a penalty, but also a red card.
Demba Ba calmly stroked home the resulting spot-kick and then increased the Magpies' hold on the game by firing home his 10th of the season after Davide Santon's 21st-minute shot had been parried by keeper Ali Al Habsi.
Wigan might have been reduced to nine men had Jones issued Gary Caldwell with a second yellow card for a trip on Ba, but he did not and the visitors responded well to make a real fist of it after the break.
However, the Magpies were always a threat on the counter and when the impressive Sylvain Marveaux picked out substitute Gael Bigirimana with 19 minutes remaining, he cut inside to curl home his first goal for the club.
Pardew was a relieved man as he savoured a win which could not have come at a better time.
He said: "It was a massive victory for us, and I am very proud of my staff and my players because we have had to stand tall.
"Four defeats in this city isn't easy for any team, I don't think. There was a lot of pressure on us."
Opposite number Roberto Martinez was bemused by the sending-off, a decision which he believed proved key.
The Spaniard, who revealed the club will consider an appeal, said: "You need to understand, Maynor is as honest as you are going to get. He is one of the most honest footballers I have ever worked with.
"When he makes a rash challenge, or if he makes a challenge he feels is clearly breaking the law, he will accept responsibility.
"He was destroyed. He was very, very upset at half-time. All he was saying was, 'I challenged, I went shoulder-to-shoulder and the ball was there to be won'.
"If you look at the replay, that's exactly what it was, so I do feel for my player. He didn't do much wrong.
"It's a decision that really changes the dynamics of the game, but then to concede from a penalty is clearly a double punishment."
Pardew, meanwhile, saw Ba, Santon and Cheick Tiote all limp off, but is hopeful all three will be fit for next Monday's trip to Fulham.
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