Newcastle will go into their May 5 clash with title-chasing Chelsea on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run after rallying to claim a point in a 2-2 draw with West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday.
An early strike from Mark Noble and fit-again Dean Ashton’s shot midway through the opening period should have put the Hammers on cruise control.
But Alan Curbishley’s men were stunned by two goals in the space of three minutes at the end of the first-half as Obafemi Martins and Geremi underlined the turnaround in terms of spirit that Kevin Keegan has achieved at Newcastle.
West Ham’s lively start was rewarded when impressive fullback George McCartney delivered a fine cross from the left, which was met on the volley by Noble.
Another McCartney cross was then dropped by Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper but Bobby Zamora was not quick enough to exploit the half-chance.
Swedish midfielder Freddie Ljungberg was stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury before Ashton doubled the home side’s lead.
Zamora headed on a punt into the box and Ashton finished off the chance with a smart shot on the turn.
Newcastle had offered little in return but they got back into the match in the 43rd minute when young defender James Tomkins allowed Martins to run on to a hopeful ball over the top of the West Ham back four.
The Nigerian striker beat Robert Green with ease and Newcastle found themselves level in stoppage time at the end of the first period when another goalbound shot from Martins was deflected past the West Ham goalkeeper by Geremi.
Newcastle were far more ambitious after the interval but it was West Ham who had the best chance to seal victory, Luis Boa Morte firing narrowly wide after Ashton and Noble had seen drives blocked.
Ashton also went close, drawing a fine save from Harper with a volley from Carlton Cole’s delivery, and Newcastle survived appeals for a late penalty when the ball struck Michael Owen on the arm inside his own box.
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