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22:16 31st October 2011

City Stunned By Demba Ba Hat-Trick

STOKE CITY slipped to their first home League defeat of the season as Demba Ba came back to haunt them with a Halloween hat-trick at the Britannia Stadium.

The Senegalese striker, who came close to completing a £5.9 million move to the Britannia Stadium back in January, struck his second treble of the season to continue Newcastle United's excellent start to the season as they climbed to third place in the Premier League table.

Although Jon Walters gave City a glimmer of hope by slamming home a late penalty, Ba was given the opportunity complete his hat-trick from the spot moments later to complete an emphatic 3-1 victory for Alan Pardew's side who remain unbeaten in the League.

Ba pounced on a couple of defensive lapses in the first half to put Newcastle firmly in control and they never really let that grip on the game slip, even though Walters rounded off a period of sustained pressure by scoring from the spot in the closing stages.

Ironically, it was that man Ba who was penalised for the push on Peter Crouch in the area, but he more than made amends for that error with his calmly taken spot kick.

It was his second hat-trick of the season, after bagging three against Blackburn Rovers, and to complete a miserable night for the Potters, captain Ryan Shawcross limped out of the action in the first half after picking up what appeared to be a thigh injury.

City have the task now of trying to pick themselves up for the Europa League tie against Maccabi Tel Aviv which takes place in Israel in 72 hours time.

Pulis was able to name a full-strength side with Begovic, Pennant and Crouch all welcomed back into the starting line-up, but Newcastle were missing their influential midfielder Cheik Tiote who had not fully recovered from a knee injury.

It was the unbeaten Geordies who posed more of a threat in the early exchanges and forced two corners in quick succession. When the second of them was only half-cleared, Ryan Taylor unleashed a volley that caught Best offside.

Begovic then had to be quick in advancing out of his area to avert the threat posed when Obertan burst forward on the counter attack when Guthrie delivered a long ball forward and the giant Bosnian duly cleared the ball into touch.

The warning signs were there for City and those fears were confirmed when Newcastle took an early lead when Ba pounced on a series of errors.

A long ball from Krul was flicked on by Best for Obertan to race down the right and his cross was calmly headed home by the Senegal striker.

Worse was to follow for the Potters when they lost Shawcross with what appeared to be a thigh injury and he had to be replaced by Upson.

City's only real threat at this stage came from a series of long throws launched into the box by Delap, but Newcastle dealt competently with them.

At the other end, there was another scare for the Potters when Cabaye spotted Ba bursting through the middle and it took another smart piece of work by Begovic as he scampered out of his area to beat the Newcastle striker to the ball.

City's best route of attack was down the right hand side and that led to a succession of long throw-ins from Delap, one of which led to an uncharacteristic error by Krul who allowed Whelan's deep cross to slip from his grasp and behind for a corner.

Obertan's pace on the counter attack was proving to be a major concern for the Potters and Wilson had to scurry back to close down the former Manchester United winger when he raced onto another pinpoint pass from the impressive Cabaye.

It was perhaps not surprising therefore that Newcastle went further in front five minutes before the break, and it was Ba who struck again.

A long throw-in of all things, sent over by Ryan Taylor, caused the initial problems and when Upson failed to make good contact with his headed clearance, it fell straight to Best who swiftly sent over a cross tucked away by his strike partner.

Newcastle had the chance to stretch their lead further just before the break when Wilkinson gave the ball away in his own half and Best took advantage by advancing forward and striking a 25-yard shot which Begovic was relieved to see flash wide.

City raised hopes of a comeback by starting the second half on the offensive and they went close to pulling a goal back when they forced a corner which Etherington swung into the middle but Huth's powerful header was a fraction too high.

The Potters sustained the pressure on Newcastle's goal and another Etherington corner was headed wide by Crouch at the far post.

Newcastle's defensive strength was put to the test again by two more corners, this time from the left, and the second of them sent over by Pennant to the far post was headed wide by Upson much to the defender's great frustration.

With City labouring in their attempts to get back in the game, it was not surprising that Pulis made a further change by sending on Jones for Etherington, meaning that the former Sunderland man was paired up front with Crouch.

Jones immediately showed one or two nice touches as City continued to bombard the Newcastle defence with balls into the box.

And the pressure eventually paid off as Ba turned from hero to villain as he clearly barged over Crouch and referee Dean pointed to the spot. Despite the best efforts of Krul to put Walters off, he slammed his spot kick into the back of the net.

But Newcastle were given an immediate chance to restore their two-goal advantage when Huth was adjudged to have pushed Best in the box and Ba gratefully accepted the chance to complete his hat-trick by sending Begovic the wrong way.

United's never-say-die spirit was then summed in injury time when Ba flung himself at a goalbound shot from Huth to block it when it seemed that he was poised to pull a goal back and offer a glimmer of hope of salvaging a point.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955