PETER CROUCH’S third goal of the campaign secured Stoke City their first home league win of the campaign in front of the live television cameras on Monday evening.
The former England international powered home a superb header during the first half of the encounter to inflict a third defeat of the campaign upon the visitors and prolong their wait for a first Premier League triumph.
Mark Hughes’ side were full value for the three points they picked up, but will feel aggrieved not to have added to the tally having created numerous opportunities to have killed of the struggling Magpies.
Marko Arnautovic smashed the post during the entertaining encounter whilst Crouch and the impressive Victor Moses went close to netting goals during the second period.
As it was Crouch’s goal ultimately proved to be enough, although Stoke fans had their hearts in their mouths just five minutes from time when Jack Colback rattled the bar in a rare opening for the Geordies.
Prior to kick-off Hughes opted to make a single change to his starting eleven from the team that faced Queens Park Rangers in the side’s last Premier League fixture nine days earlier.
Spanish Under 21 starlet Marc Muniesa was rewarded for his fine outing in the Capital One Cup triumph over Sunderland last Tuesday evening – replacing Erik Pieters who dropped down to the bench.
Newcastle boss Pardew, who received a lukewarm reception from the visiting supporters housed in the Marston’s Pedigree Stand, opted to stick with the same eleven that were held at home by Hull City.
That news meant a spot amongst the substitutes for Senegalese international Papiss Cisse, whose second half brace in the meeting with the Tigers secured his team a third point of the 2014/15 campaign.
The torrential rain and early evening thunder and lightning failed to spark either of the teams into action, with both sets of players taking their time to adjust to the tricky conditions inside the Britannia Stadium.
It was the home side who began to dictate the tempo of the game however following a rather slow start and with the first real meaningful attack of the game the supporters were celebrating their side’s first home league goal of the term.
Some intricate play down the left culminated in the lively Victor Moses delivering a sublime ball deep into the penalty area where Crouch rose high above Paul Dummett and planted a superb header into the far corner of the net.
Before the fans had retaken their seats they were left absolutely incandescent by referee Craig Pawson, who opted to wave play on when Moses was clearly hacked down inside the penalty area by a rather fortunate Newcastle defender.
The goal had undoubtedly lifted Hughes’ troops who began to take the game to the visitors at every opportunity with the pace and power of the forward players causing serious problems to the visiting side’s backline.
Nzonzi was unable to force Tim Krul into a save after a good run forward, whilst at the other end an opportunist effort from full-back Daryl Janmaat forced Begovic into what proved to be the save of the evening.
Crouch was presented with a glorious opportunity to double his evening’s tally after being fed inside the box by Moses, but his effort lacked conviction and it was sliced harmlessly into the stand housing the away fans behind the goal.
Muniesa was providing superb service down the left flank having been handed his first league start of the season, and it was he who delivered a fizzing centre across the six-yard box that narrowly evaded Nzonzi, before Crouch’s goal-bound effort was superbly blocked by Mike Williamson.
Arnautovic, who was introduced from the bench at the expense of the injured Diouf midway through the first-half, went agonisingly close to getting the second period off with a bang as his thumping effort cannoned back of the post following a superb passage of play.