QUEENS Park Rangers suffered their first defeat under boss Harry Redknapp as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United at St. James Park.
Substitute Shola Ameobi earned the home side all three points after his 81st minute striker separated the two sides.
Defeat saw Rangers remain second from bottom of the Barclays Premier League table but with Wigan Athletic and Southampton both suffering defeats the gap from safety remained five points.
R’s made three changes to the starting line-up that beat Fulham seven days ago. Anton Ferdinand, Esteban Granero and Fabio Da Silva were called into the side at the expense of Nedum Onuoha, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Armand Traore who were all among the substitutes.
However, despite Rangers lining up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation It took until the 9th minute for either side to register a real threat on goal when Newcastle’s Mike Williamson was left unmarked in the R’s six-yard box to header a corner in on goal; but the danger was scrambled away by the visitors.
Granero then dropped a ball over the shoulder of the Magpies defence for Adel Taarabt to warm Tim Krul’s hands from 8-yards 7 minutes later.
In a first half of few real chances Mackie won a corner for Rangers midway through the opening period after good work from Taarabt but Ale Faurlin’s corner found the hands of keeper Krul.
The R’s then had full-back Fabio to thank after he did just enough to put off United’s Papiss Cisse with the Senegal striker bearing down on Robert Green’s goal inside the penalty area before Demba Ba struck a free-kick over Green’s bar from 20-yards.
Ba wasted another free-kick wide of the R’s 18-yard box when he again found the Newcastle fans behind Green’s goal after Mbia was adjudged to have fouled Cheick Tiote five minutes before half-time.
And as the fourth official signalled two minutes of injury time a 30-yard strike from Newcastle centre-back Williamson took a fortunate deflection off Spaniard Granero to direct the ball behind for a corner.
Queens Park Rangers started brightly and Djbril Cisse forced Krul into a save at his near post three minutes after half-time when Taarabt had jinked his way past three in the middle of the park to release the Rangers striker.
James Perch then tested Green on the hour mark from distance before seconds later Cisse headed over for the home side from a Gutierrez cross moment before the pair were immediately substituted.
And three minutes later Green pulled off a tremendous save from Vurnon Anita’s free-kick on the left flank when his 35-yard cross was allowed to bounce inside the custodians six-yard box but the ex-West Ham stopped pushed the danger clear.
Substitute Junior Hoilett lost the ball to Magpies winger Gabriel Obertan in the 73rd minute but Green was able to get down to comfortably and save Ba’s header from 8-yards after Obertan picked out the Newcastle striker.
And with Rangers backs to the wall Newcastle’s superior position paid off as they took the lead in the 81st minute when substitute Shola Ameobi avoided several last ditch tackles to beat Green at full stretch from the right hand side of the box.
Their lead was nearly doubled soon after as Newcastle broke from their own penalty area after Wright-Phillips gave the ball away. With Sylvain Marveaux holding off the advances of the R’s defence Green blocked his effort from just inside the box.
Clint Hill then handed Newcastle a free-kick right on the edge of the penalty area after tangling with Ba but Marveaux side footed just wide of the left hand post following Ba’s step over.
That proved the last chance for either side as following five minutes of injury time, which saw Taarabt fail to test Krul with a 30-yard free-kick, meant QPR had suffered their first defeat in five matches.