SUPER SUB Cameron Jerome seized his big opportunity in stunning fashion to fire Stoke City to their third successive home victory in a remarkable turnaround in the closing stages of their Barclays Premier League match against Newcastle United.
Jerome, handed a rare opportunity when City were trailing to an opportunist goal from Papiss Cisse, created the 81st minute equaliser for Jonathan Walters and then lashed home the winner four minutes later to send Newcastle tumbling to another defeat.
It appeared it wasn’t going to be the Potters’ night when Cisse pounced on a loose ball after Asmir Begovic failed to hold onto a Demba Ba shot after the break.
But the introduction of Jerome sparked the late fightback as he delivered the cross from which Walters glanced home a header nine minutes from time and then he latched onto a knockdown from Kenwyne Jones to score his first goal of the season.
The victory, which took City’s tally to ten points from the last four matches, lifted them up to ninth place in the Barclays Premier League table.
Pulis had opted to name an unchanged side, rather than introduce fresh legs as he had hinted at doing with the Potters facing three games in a week.
City made the brighter start and their first opportunity to exert pressure on the Newcastle defence came from a free kick whipped into the box by Etherington, but although Huth met it with a glancing header, he did not make sufficient contact to trouble Krul.
The visitors responded with a swift counter attack in which Ba picked out Cisse with a raking crossfield pass and when he dragged the ball back to Anita, the diminutive midfielder turned sharply to unleash a low shot straight at Begovic.
After a fairly subdued passage of play, the Potters then asked questions of the Newcastle defence with a number of menacing balls into the box.
Santon became the first player to receive a yellow card, followed shortly afterwards by Perch, and when a free kick delivered to the edge of the six yard box by Whelan was fractionally too high for Huth or Shawcross, it rebounded off Williamson and bounced down before hitting the outside of the post much to the helpless Krul’s relief.
Whelan then took the free kick which stemmed from Perch’s caution, but his attempt to curl a shot towards the top corner was off target.
The Republic of Ireland international was a lot closer with another long range effort which had Krul scurrying across his line as it flew wide of the upright, but chances for either side were few and far between in the bitterly cold conditions.
City were forced into a change in the closing stages of the half when Crouch was caught in the face by Coliccini flailing arm, leaving him with damage to his teeth, and Pulis immediately decided to throw Jones into the action.
Having had the better of an uneventful first half, City were caught cold when they went behind immediately after the interval.
Whelan was caught in possession in the middle of the park and Ba seized upon the loose ball to fire a low shot straight at Begovic. Unfortunately, the Bosnian couldn’t hold onto it and Cisse nipped to bury his low shot into the bottom corner.
It was hardly surprising then that Ba instinctive reaction was to try another long range shot in Newcastle’s next attack, but on this occasion, it was at a comfortable height for Begovic and he saved at the second attempt.
After making little headway themselves in search of an equaliser, City were given a scare when Newcastle caught them on the break as a long ball from the back carried through to Cisse whose shot was palmed away by Begovic.
Pulis then made a double change to try and inject some energy into the search for an equaliser with Kightly and Jerome being introduced in place of Adam and Etherington, but the visitors resisted any initial attempts to draw level.
When City were awarded a corner, Kightly’s delivery to the edge of the six yard box was met by Shawcross, but under pressure from Williamson, he was unable to get his header on target and it looped past the post.
Newcastle threatened to grab a second on the break once again when Cameron’s clearance was charged down, allowing Ba to burst forward down the right before unleashing a shot which Begovic saved with his legs.
City must have thought it wasn’t going to be their night when Kightly lifted an inviting cross into the box for Jones who rose to meet it with a close range header, but he directed it straight at Krul who saved comfortably.
However, moments later City got their equaliser with an excellent finish from Walters as he buried his header past the Dutchman.
Jerome was the provider as he burst down the right before cutting back to send over a cross which Walters rose to glance past Krul.
The stadium then erupted four minutes later when Walters hoisted the ball forward and Jones headed it down into the path of Jerome who lashed home his shot to complete a remarkable turnaround in the game.
Newcastle looked shattered by the double blow and could not find a way back in the remaining minutes as they slipped to a fourth successive defeat.
For City, it was entirely different story as they celebrated a third successive home victory to continue their climb up the table.