Ameobi proud of Toon start
The Magpies came through their toughest test to date on Sunday when they went toe-to-toe with Tottenham at St James' Park and twice came from behind to claim a draw which kept them in fourth place in the Barclays Premier League table. Substitute Ameobi, whose 86th-minute strike secured the point, has experienced all the highs and lows of the last decade or so on Tyneside, and he is well placed to judge just exactly what is fuelling the club's current purple patch. He said: "We have got players who have got a lot of pride in the shirt that they play in, and we have got winners. "We have got people who want to win games, who want to do well and who want to prove that they belong here, and that's always going to bode well. "Having a fit squad now, we have got everyone pushing each other and you know if you are not quite at it, you have got someone else ready to step in. "That competition bodes well for us and it's really been fantastic to see this season." Spurs arrived at St James' on the back of four successive league victories to meet a Newcastle side unbeaten in nine games in all competitions and seven in the league this season. Something had to give, although there was little sign of the fireworks which were to come during the opening exchanges. The game only really exploded into life with 38 minutes gone when Steven Taylor tripped Emmanuel Adebayor as he surged into the penalty area, and after taking his time to assess the situation, referee Lee Probert pointed to the spot. Rafael van der Vaart sent keeper Tim Krul the wrong way to open the scoring and send the Magpies in at the break trailing. However, they needed just three minutes of the second period to get themselves back on term after Jonas Gutierrez embarked upon the kind of mazy run which is becoming his trademark. His cross fell perfectly for the unmarked Demba Ba in the middle, and although keeper Brad Friedel did his best to keep out the Senegal international's shot, he could only carry it into the net to hand the striker his fifth goal in three games. Spurs regained their lead with 68 minutes gone when substitute Jermain Defoe turned expertly to thump a low shot past Krul, but Ameobi's sweetly-struck 86th-minute equaliser set up a grandstand finish during which both Defoe and Fabricio Coloccini might have snatched victory. Ameobi said: "As a striker, goals breed confidence and that was big for me. All the other guys are off the mark and flying. "Being out, you are always a little envious watching them do that, but it's always great for us as strikers. "You wish your team-mate all the best and they have done well this season. It's going to be tough for me to get back into that team." Newcastle boss Pardew was delighted with both the overall performance and Ameobi's contribution. He said: "He is somebody that since I have been here has been absolutely brilliant. "I looked at him and I thought his reputation didn't coincide with the player he is. "Since I have been here, he's fitter, scoring goals, impacts the game, great in the dressing room, and I was so pleased for him that he got that goal." Ameobi's big moment came at the end of a week during which he celebrated his 30th birthday, although he admits he can scarcely believe how quickly the days since he was a raw teenager making his way in the game under Sir Bobby Robson have passed. He said: "I'm the other side of 30 now. It's flown by. Every season I come back, it's always a pleasure, but God knows, it flies." If it was all smiles in the home dressing room, there was disappointment for Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, who was also grateful for the efforts of his substitute Defoe. He said on Monday: "It's a difficult one, really. I have got him and Rafa and it's a decision I have to make who plays because they are both in good form. "I didn't think Rafa looked sharp today, I felt today he looked tired. He's been playing for his country, he's been away and he wasn't as sharp as he normally is. "He scored the penalty and then I decided that Jermain just might give us a little bit more sharpness, and he did."