SHOLA Ameobi believes his dramatic winner against Queens Park Rangers can finally kick-start Newcastle United’s season.
Ameobi netted nine minutes from time at St James’s Park on Saturday to give Alan Pardew’s side a hugely-important 1-0 win.
And the result moved the club five points clear of the Premier League’s relegation zone after an uncomfortable fortnight which saw United sat perilously close to the bottom three.
With Newcastle at league leaders Manchester United on Boxing Day – and Arsenal on December 29 – a win was imperative.
And Ameobi – who came off the bench with instructions to get a goal – was just happy to have played his part.
The 31-year-old striker took the ball from Sylvain Marveaux, skipped past a challenge from Adel Taarabt and beat goalkeeper Rob Green with a fine left-footed shot.
It was Ameobi’s first league strike of the season, and his 75th goal for the club could prove one of his most significant.
“In the context of the season, I think it was imperative we got three points,” Ameobi told the Gazette.
“The first half of the season hasn’t been that great, and finding ourselves where we are, with QPR right behind us, meant it was a must-win game.
“I’m just delighted we were able to get over the line.
“It was a goal I was delighted with under the circumstances. Thankfully, it gave us the three points.
Ameobi was practising shooting with his weaker left foot in the warm-up.
“I’ve always been confident on either foot – I just wanted to make the angle that little bit easier,” he added.
“At times that hits off a defender, but I managed to get it through a couple of defenders and hit that far post.
“You have to be relaxed – it’s easy to snatch at things.
“I’m always a big believer in practice. I was doing that before the game – practising my left foot. You have to do that.
“You also have to be lucky as well. I got the chance, and managed to cut in and hit that far post.
“It could’ve gone anywhere. It was my day, and I’m delighted.”
While the result has eased the pressure on Pardew and his players, Ameobi is under no illusions about the task ahead of the team over the coming weeks and months.
However, the confidence drawn from the QPR game has buoyed the dressing room ahead of the club’s Boxing Day visit to Old Trafford, where Newcastle haven’t won since 1972.
“The fans understand where we are, and how hard it’s going to be to get ourselves up that table,” said Ameobi.
“When you lose games, your confidence goes. It was great to see the boys kept on plugging away.
“I wanted to be out there helping the boys. The manager put me on and said ‘get me a goal’. It doesn’t always happen, but I was fortunate enough to get on the end of something.
“We’ve had chances and played well recently, but couldn’t get a result.
“We had to slug it out – both teams were playing in difficult conditions – and we needed effort and dedication. I thought we looked solid as a team.
“We’ve been leaking goals, and to get a clean sheet also gives us confidence.
“It gives us confidence going into the next game, which hasn’t been great to us over the years.”