Memories of Britannia blitz motivate Pardew

 

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The Independent Online

Alan Pardew has a score to settle tonight when he takes his Newcastle United team, still unbeaten in the Premier League this season, to the Britannia Stadium. It was against Tony Pulis' Stoke City side last season that Pardew suffered what remains the heaviest defeat of his ten-month tenure. As well as that 4-0 mugging at the Britannia in March, he has also been outmanoeuvred on the tennis court by Pulis, an old friend. "He played it long and beat me," Pardew recalled.

Newcastle haven't won away to Stoke in a league match since the year Boris Becker won the men's singles title at Wimbledon as a boy of 17. That 1-0 success in May 1985 came courtesy of an own goal by the Stoke centre-half Paul Dyson.

A winner via a misplaced header or shot by the one-time Magpie Jonathan Woodgate would satisfy Pardew tonight as he looks to ride the disappointment of a 4-3 extra-time defeat in the Carling Cup at Blackburn last Wednesday and maintain the momentum of an unbeaten league run that stretches back to a 3-0 defeat at Anfield on 1 May. Newcastle are one of three of 92 English League clubs yet to lose outside of cup action this season, together with Manchester City and Lee Clark's Huddersfield Town.

A win tonight would take the Magpies above Chelsea into third but Pardew may be forced to make his first change in six league matches, with midfield anchor man Cheik Tioté struggling to overcome a knee problem. Centre-half Steven Taylor missed the Blackburn cup tie with a broken nose but is expected to don a protective mask to resume his partnership with Fabricio Coloccini.

"He's not the best looking boy, so there's not much to worry about," Pardew quipped. "I think he'll come in for a bit of attention but he's big and strong enough to hold up to that."

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