It was a frustrating match for Newcastle United today - part of our own creation, part of Stoke's stubbornness. In a first half that was every bit the antithesis of the 0-0 first half v. Swansea, a fairly tepid, drab first half that saw Newcastle with the better of play if no real goal-scoring threats went 0-0 to the half. Perhaps the most exciting part of the first half followed a deliberate handball by Peter Crouch which saw Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa let the striker roughly twice his height know that he was not having it.
The most notable action would come in the second half. Despite still having the better of play, Newcastle would go behind in the 67th minute following a rather terrible decision by Cheik Tiote (who had a rather good match otherwise) to make a late sliding challenge in the corner of the 18 yard box for which Andre Marriner rightly awarded a penalty. Jonathan Walters put his penaltty woes of the 2012-13 season behind him and placed a great penalty in the low corner to Rob Elliot's right.
United would respond positively, redoubling their offensive efforts with slightly more fruit in attack, and would be rewarded as Moussa Sissoko was fouled practically on 18-yard line (in the run of play, he should have found Cissé wide open in the middle of the Stoke penalty area). Yohan Cabaye made no mistake, putting in the free kick off of the underside of the cross bar. In the moments prior to the free kick, Asmir Begovic did very little to endear himself to St. James' Park and Steven Taylor in particular. After the free kick, Steven Taylor may have taunted Begovic just a little. #Lad. Although Newcastle would continue to be the more prominent force in the match, it looked like finishing up as a 1-1 draw (which would have been acceptable after conceding first), but a stoppage time moment of brilliance would snatch all three points.
Substitute Sylvain Marveaux and off-form striker Papiss Cissé linked up to spring the Stoke City offside trap and we saw another touch of "vintage Papiss" as he popped the ball up with one foot from a brilliant low pass from Marveaux and finished clinically. It was a perfect pass from Marveaux perfectly played by Cissé and perfectly reffed (as confirmed on replay). Matches against Stoke City are never pretty, and this was no exception... but a Machiavellian attitude of "the end justifies the means" is an appropriate reaction today. Closer to the top half, closer to safety.Ne