Pulis hits out at Barton's histrionics as Stoke find strength in siege mentality

Newcastle United 1 Stoke City 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

In a week where Stoke City have come under renewed scrutiny for the robust approach of some of their players, their manager Tony Pulis mounted a robust riposte to their numerous critics, insisting others, including their vanquished opponents, have equal need to get their houses in order.

Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson has been dealt with "in house" for his fearsome challenge on Fulham's Moussa Dembele in midweek, but after climbing out of the bottom three with their first victory at St James' Park for 35 years, Pulis cranked up the siege mentality at the Britannia Stadium to unprecedented levels.

Believed to be referring to a first-half incident involving Joey Barton, which had no bearing on the result and wasn't flagged up at the time, Pulis said: "We've had bad publicity this week with Andy's challenge, but I was really disappointed when one of the Newcastle players went down and I think simulated an injury from a challenge. Three passes later he was running around as if nothing has happened."

That Stoke finished the contest with five former Sunderland players on the field rubbed salt in the wounds as Newcastle capitulated after the break, the visitors' comeback rounded off by James Perch heading into his own net from Matthew Etherington's 85th-minute corner.

It was a different story before the break. Robert Huth struggled to contain Andy Carroll's run to meet a cross from Jose Enrique. Huth manhandled the forward to the ground a dozen yards from goal under the gaze of referee Mike Jones. It was one of the more clear-cut penalty decisions of the Cheshire official's career. Thomas Sorensen was beaten by Kevin Nolan, sent the wrong way by the Newcastle skipper's strike. It was the only shot on target of an abject first-half, coming two minutes before the break.

The second goal rarely looked like materialising and Stoke gave warning of the about-turn to come as Kenwyne Jones struck the woodwork twice with a shot against the post and a header that came back off the crossbar in the space of five minutes.

It was to be third time lucky as, with 23 minutes remaining, the Trinidad and Tobago forward headed into an empty net from Huth's knock-back as Etherington's free-kick, awarded for Enrique's foul on Ricardo Fuller that left the forward with a suspected dislocated shoulder, caused confusion in the Newcastle area.

While Stoke show signs of improvement having taken seven points from the last three games, Newcastle have shown enough in the campaign's opening six weeks to suggest Blackpool won't have the monopoly on rollercoaster seasons this time round.

Match facts

Newcastle United 4-4-1-1: Krul; Perch, Williamson, Coloccini, Enrique; Routledge, Barton, Tiote (Ameobi, 74), Ben Arfa (Gutierrez, 61); Nolan; Carroll. Substitutes not used: Soderberg (gk), Lovenkrands, R Taylor, Smith, Ranger.

Stoke City 4-4-2: Sorensen; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Collins; Whitehead, Diao (Fuller, 50; Gudjohnsen, 67), Whelan (Delap, 56), Etherington; Walters, Jones. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Wilson, Higginbotham, Faye.

Booked Diao.

Man of the match Jones.

Possession Newcastle 49% Stoke 51%

Shots on target Newcastle 4 Stoke 6.

Referee M Jones (Cheshire) Attendance 41,915. Match rating 6/10.