Kyle Goldsmith looks back at today’s Premier League encounter between Newcastle and Stoke, which ended 1-1 on Tyneside.
Stoke snatched a point at St. James’ Park as Peter Crouch looped in a late header to stun Newcastle and grab a 1-1 draw.
Victory would have moved the Magpies above Stoke but they missed a hatful of late chances and they were punished.
The game had a fairly unremarkable first half, with the best chances for both sides being incredibly similar. In the 11th minute some nice play on the left gave Sissoko the chance to cross and he curled in a great ball for Cabella and he flicked it straight at Begovic, who unknowingly deflected it wide.
Sammy Ameobi and Ayoze Perez both had decent chances but put them wide, while Stoke had to wait until right at the end of the first half for their best chance. In time added the creative Stephen Ireland crossed the ball to the front post but Mame Biram Diouf’s diving header was straight at Tim Krul, who dove to his left and pushed it wide.
Half time arrived, and it was fair to say that the first 45 minutes were hardly the most exciting. They were however quite even and Mark Hughes would have been the happier of the managers. His Stoke side had held the Toon to one good chance and some long shots, and this would carry on for most of the second half.
In the second half it was again a quite even affair. Jack Colback was booked for a late challenge on Muniesa, and this was something that would be brought up again later in the match. Stoke themselves began to dominate, winning three successive corners but not getting a clear cut chance.
Halfway through the second half, Newcastle manager John Carver decided that his side needed a change and he first brought on Papiss Cisse for Vurnon Anita, a positive substitution. This would be Cisse’s first game since returning from the African Cup of Nations, where he only made one appearance for Senegal due to injury. This was a popular change because Ayoze Perez was being dominated by Stoke’s impressive centre backs, and Cisse would offer some support. Unfortunately for Carver though his next substitution was not so popular with the St. James’ Park faithful. He put on Gabriel Obertan for the energetic Remy Cabella, who had looked Newcastle’s main creative threat all day. This switch would come back to haunt Carver.
In the 71st minute a big moment in the game arrived, as Jack Colback once again went ploughing in to a tackle on Victor Moses. The referee somehow decided that it wasn’t worth a second yellow, leaving Stoke boss Mark Hughes fuming when Colback scored just moments later.
Three minutes after the tackle, some good play around the box eventually ended up with the ball at Obertan’s feet on the right. He crossed it in low to Sissoko, who set it back to Colback, the man who might not even have been on the pitch. He smashed it low and hard into the bottom corner to send St. James’ Park into raptures.
Four minutes later, Stoke thought they had equalised through Stephen Ireland, but the goal was disallowed. N’Zonzi had left the pass a little too late and the flag on the far side went up. It was a nice finish by Ireland, who was subbed off for Peter Crouch afterwards.
In the 85th minute with Stoke chasing an equaliser, Moussa Sissoko made a tackle in his own half and ran with the ball. He piled towards the Gallowgate End before playing it to Obertan on the right. The pass was a little over hit but somehow he ended up one on one with Begovic. The whole crowd held their breath, the red and white section in particular, though I doubt you can see much from all the way up there. Obertan decided to…. pass it. Nobody could believe it, least of all Papiss Cisse, the intended target. Muniesa pounced and hacked the ball away, leaving St. James’ Park stunned. You wondered if this would come back to haunt Obertan and Newcastle, and it did in the final minute of normal time.
Stoke substitute full back Geoff Cameron broke down the right and hoofed it into the penalty area, more in hope than in expectation. The ball went deep into the box, almost too deep. Peter Crouch leapt up, and the ball landed on his head. He had to get the header perfect, and fortunately for Stoke, he did. The ball looped over the goalkeeper, and landed in the goal. Newcastle players dropped to the turf, their memories of Obertan’s wrong decision still burning in their minds.
Newcastle pushed for a late winner, but it never arrived. The full time whistle blew, and a stunned silence with a few boos was heard around the 45,000 inside St. James’ Park. Newcastle had missed the opportunity and Stoke were just about worthy of their point.