Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Sunday April 12 2009
A late Andy Carroll goal gave Alan Shearer his first point as Newcastle manager as his side came back to draw at Stoke. Abdoulaye Faye had given the Potters a deserved first half lead but the home side failed to capitalize on plenty of chances and were made to pay by the visitors late on.
Boss Tony Pulis named an unchanged team from the one that beat West Brom last weekend, Henri Camara was however unable to take his place on the bench and was replaced by Michael Tonge. Newcastle had upfront Captain Michael Owen who netted twice when the sides last met in December.
Stoke started the brighter side and put the Newcastle defence under increasing amounts of pressure from Rory Delap`s throws and Liam Lawrence corners. Set-piece danger man Ryan Shawcross climbed highest to meet one of Lawrence`s corners only to see his effort flash inches wide, an early warning from Stoke as they took advantage of Newcastle`s frailty at the back late on in the half.
Ricardo Fuller almost helped himself to a goal after poor defending on the visitor`s part. The Jamaican ghosted in unnoticed to meet Delap`s cross before Magpies keeper Steve Harper but agonisingly saw it clear the cross bar.
Newcastle didn`t learn and were made to pay just after the half-hour. Former Magpie Abdoulaye Faye placed his header to perfection following another Lawrence corner to give Stoke a much deserved lead. The Stoke skipper scored his second goal in as many matches against his former employers after grabbing a last minute equaliser in the reverse fixture.
The intensity levels rose as both teams started to show how important the game meant as Stoke had a couple players booked and James Beattie had several stitches and a bandage on his head after being hit by a elbow from Sebastian Bassong.
The Potters defence was as strong as ever with Abdoulaye Faye and Ryan Shawcross at its heart. Also Andy Wilkinson and Danny Higginbotham played there part in an almost total dominant Stoke performance.
Newcastle survived the early second half onslaught from the Potters as they had a countless amount of chances to put the game to bed. First Glenn Whelan managed to power a header towards an empty Newcastle goal but Ryan Taylor squeezed across to make a last ditch clearance to deny the Irishman. Minutes later Abdoulaye Faye again got himself on the end of Lawrence`s corner, the Senegalese slid in at the far post but again it was cleared off the line, this time courtesy of Bassong. Matthew Etherington wasted the most clear cut chance as he fired wide after being through one on one with Harper.
Stoke`s new midfield partnership of Glenn Whelan and Rory Delap looked solid throughout, Whelan looked as good as he has ever been in the red and white as he made a highly thought of Newcastle midfield look ordinary.
Newcastle eventually had a little spell of their own and equalised with 10mins to go. A deflected Damien Duff cross was immaculately headed back by sub Andy Carroll into the far corner as it looped over the helpless Sorensen. A great header by the youngster proving to Shearer he is worth a starting place after replacing the ineffective former Stoke player Shola Ameobi.
Stoke hung on for a draw that sees them retain 13th place and 6 points clear of relegation. Next week they prepare for a huge six pointer against Sam Alladyce`s Blackburn, a win for the Potters would almost guarantee there Premier League status for next season.
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Date:Sunday April 12 2009
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