Stoke City 2 Newcastle United 1: Just when a goal from Papiss Cissé looked as if it might set the Senegalese striker’s season back on track along with Newcastle’s, Stoke produced a stirring comeback to preserve their unbeaten record at the Britannia Stadium and sent Alan Pardew’s ailing side to a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat.
Cissé, who has struggled to recapture the form that brought him 13 goals from as many starts after arriving on Tyneside in January, put Newcastle ahead just into the second half, but Stoke's determination not to surrender to their first home defeat since February proved irresistible in the end as Jonathan Walters and substitute Cameron Jerome scored in the 81st and 85th minutes.
After a season beset by injuries, the news that both Johan Cabaye and Steven Taylor will be missing until well into 2013 had done nothing for Newcastle's confidence. They defended well enough, however, with Fabricio Coloccini making a timely return from suspension, and goalkeeper Tim Krul did not need to make a save in the first half, even though Stoke monopolised the attacking play.
When Newcastle edged in front two minutes into the second half, they must have felt their luck was turning. Cheick Tioté and Demba Ba combined to dispossess Glenn Whelan in midfield, Ba made a run on goal and, though goalkeeper Asmir Begovic stopped Ba's shot, he let the ball slip and Cissé, his reactions sharp despite his scoring drought, pounced on the chance to grab only his second Premier League goal this season.
It took a fine save from Begovic to deny Cissé a second but going behind seemed to fire Stoke with new purpose and manager Tony Pulis, who had lost Peter Crouch after a first-half clash with Coloccini that cost the striker two teeth, encouraged them to go forward, sending on more attackers in Jerome and Michael Kightly.
With Walters raising his game impressively, Stoke mounted a sustained assault on the Newcastle goal. Walters, after feeding Jerome on the right, launched a run to the near post that the Newcastle defence failed to pick up, and rose to nod Jerome's cross past Krul. Then Jerome, himself without a goal in almost seven months, ran on to Kenwyne Jones' headed pass, after Walters had played the ball forward, and smashed home the winner.
Pardew, who felt referee Howard Webb might have awarded a penalty for handball against Ryan Shawcross, at least drew encouragement from an improved display. "There was so much commitment, such an improvement on the Southampton and Swansea games," he said. "If you are going to get a victory, that was the sort of performance that is going to buoy you to one."
Man of the Match Walters.
Match rating 6/10.
Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire).