When Mark Hughes became the second member of Stoke’s staff to be dismissed yesterday, with the first half still to finish, he threw his club coat into the air in rage. The manager, who followed Glenn Whelan down the St James’ Park tunnel, would have been better off waving a white flag.
By the 43rd minute another of his players, Marc Wilson, had been shown a red card by Martin Atkinson. The hard earned one-nil lead his team had chiselled out through a fine Oussama Assaida goal, evaporated from there, even with Loic Rémy having the penalty he had earned by being tugged down by Wilson, saved by Thomas Sorensen.
Whelan’s dismissal had come in the 40th minute for two avoidable yellow cards. The first, for kicking the ball away after a foul had been given against him and then for a late, ill-thought challenge on Yohan Cabaye, who he had clashed with after the first booking, in the 34th minute.
Hughes went a minute later, when the fourth official, Robert Madley, informed Atkinson the Stoke manager had kicked the ball away and by the time Rémy missed from the penalty spot, we were still only in the 43rd minute. Within 60 seconds, Rémy had made amends with a finish that deflected in off the Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross. Stoke will rarely have endured four minutes of football quite like it and Hughes raged afterwards.
“The referee needs to look at his performance,” he said. “I was dismayed by his performance for one of the senior referees. We were in control of the game, Newcastle were finding it difficult to have an impact then the referee makes a couple of decisions which change the course of the game. We just want the ref to make correct decisions and key decisions that don’t impact on the result.
“He booked Glenn Whelan for kicking the ball away. I didn’t hear the whistle and neither did he and neither did Cabaye. I’d say the second challenge was innocuous. Cabaye went down too easily. He was too ready to give a second yellow. A quiet word might have been right.
“I was going up to the stand when the second red happened. I don’t think the striker thought he would get a strike so went down. Unbelievable.
“The ball was out of play for Newcastle’s second. I could not trust myself to go and see the referee. I booted the ball back on the pitch. It was frustration and I apologise.” Eleven v nine for the entirety of the second half ensured the game was finished after Atkinson’s intervention, and Newcastle, who have emerged as a genuine, surprise force this season, were clinical in the execution that followed, scoring four times, including a penalty from a third different taker in two games.
Yoan Gouffran started the rout three minutes after the interval with a shot into the bottom corner of Sorensen’s goal, after a weak punch from the former Sunderland goalkeeper. Rémy scored his second with a far post header in the 56th minute and 10 minutes later, Cabaye rounded off a fine move by sweeping the ball into the Stoke goal.
Hatem Ben Arfa, who struck the post twice during a mesmerising spell, then won another penalty for Newcastle in the 80th minute and the substitute Papiss Cissé , who had not scored a league goal since April, was given the ball by Cabaye to stroke in a fifth.
“I asked the team to be clinical and move the ball quickly and it couldn’t have gone any better,” said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. “All nine Stoke players conducted themselves very well considering what they were playing against out on the pitch.”