DAVE KEMP has urged Stoke City to be more clinical with their finishing . . . as they look to build upon an encouraging sequence of results when they face Newcastle United in the Barclays Premier League at the Britannia Stadium.
City's assistant manager insists that converting more of the chances which they have been creating holds the key to them adding to a tally of seven points from a possible nine in their last three matches over the past fortnight.
Kemp has also sounded a warning that the Potters should not be fooled by the dip in fortunes which Newcastle have experienced in the Premier League as they contend with a dual challenge on European and domestic fronts.
In looking ahead to Wednesday evening's meeting with Alan Pardew's side, he commented: "Newcastle will be a tough test.
"Even the best teams in the League have a blip over the course of the season, but we know what they are capable of doing. A team which contains Ba and Cisse is always going to be a major threat, so we'll have to be at our best.
"We're pleased with the results we have picked up in the last few matches, but we would have liked to have scored a few more goals.
"That's the one facet of our game which is frustrating at the moment. We're defending well and we're creating chances, but we're not sticking the ball in the back of the net and we can't keep it claiming it's a bad luck story."
Kemp pointed to the statistics from Saturday's win over Fulham as an example after City had to hold onto their lead in the closing stages.
"The good thing is we had 14 shots at goal; the bad thing is only two of them were on target," he added at the pre-match press conference.
"That's something we've got to rectify if we're going to score more goals. We've got to be a lot more clinical with our finishing, so that we are hitting the target more often and therefore forcing the 'keeper to make saves.
"Even in the games that we have won, they have been tighter than they should be, and that is because we didn't put away our chances."
City can relate to their own experience last season of combining a Europa League campaign with their Premier League commitments in assessing a Newcastle side who have lost their last three games on the domestic front.
"We know how difficult it can be," said Kemp. "You play a lot of games in the Europa League and we were hit by travelling long distances too.
"We had some below-par performances after Europa League trips and I dare say that Newcastle have found that to be the case this season, although they are not coming into this particular match off the back of a European tie.
"If you're not ready for Premier League action, then you get found out. It happened to us and maybe it has happened to them this season."