Ba talk of the Toon as Magpies continue flying form

NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew hailed the men asked to plug the gap left by Andy Carroll after seeing Demba Ba plunder a hat-trick against Blackburn on Saturday.

The Senegal international’s claimed his first goals for the club after, in his manager’s opinion, finally shaking off the after-effects of fasting during Ramadan.

With Leon Best having passed up a series of opportunities to add to his three goals for the season, the fury which greeted the Magpies’ failure to sign a replacement for Carroll during the summer transfer window has started to recede.

Pardew said: “The investment we have had in the team, which has been significant in terms of the squad, is there for all to see — and we have still got Davide Santon to threaten this team and we have still got [Hatem] Ben Arfa, who had a little cameo today, so we are a strong side.

“My look at the strikers is, ‘Okay, prove to me that I don’t need to get one’, and I think they have taken that challenge on. Especially the two who played today, they played at a very high standard. They are not the most glamorous of names yet, but they did very, very well today.

“Demba has had a slow start here, mainly because of Ramadan in my view.

“But strikers thrive on goals and that confidence that Demba is going to get from those three goals here in front of the Toon Army will have done him a power of good.”

Ba chose the perfect moment to open his account with a fine 27th-minute turn and finish, but he was not content to settle for that.

He doubled his tally within three minutes with a close-range header, and then completed his hat-trick nine minutes after the restart despite Best’s efforts to get the decisive touch on the line.

Rovers boss Steve Kean was convinced Best had fouled Scott Dann in the process, and Martin Olsson was booked for his protests, paving the way for his dismissal 20 minutes from time for a trip on the former Coventry striker.

Kean, who spoke to referee Martin Atkinson after the final whistle, said: “I said to him, ‘Please look at it again and give us your honest opinion’ because I don’t think you will see a clearer foul.’’

Prior to Ba’s third goal, Junior Hoilett pulled one back for Rovers before the break, but they never looked like extending their run of five league wins at St James’ Park.

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