Writer: Tom Mckeon
Date:Monday October 31 2011
The Britannia Stadium
Demba Ba hit a stunning hat-trick at the Britannia to shock The Potters and maintain Newcastle's unbeaten start to the new season.
The 26-year-old looked set to join Stoke last January before they pulled the plug, but it was his majestic performance tonight which reminded them what they'd missed out on.
The Senegal striker netted a smart header early on, and diverted a Leon Best shot into the goal to send Newcastle 2-0 up and cruising at the break.
Jonathan Walters managed to reduce the arrears from the spot, before Ba was on hand to complete his hat-trick and restore Newcastle's two goal lead with an equally questionable penalty kick late on.
It was no more than Newcastle deserved as the Magpies energy and confidence shone throughout against a Stoke side looking unusually leggy and lethargic.
And Newcastle started as they meant to go on, with black shirts surging forward in the opening stages.
Stoke pride themselves on set-pieces but it was the visitors who were looking to put the pressure on with consecutive corners, and Ryan Taylor probably should've done better with a sliced volley as the ball fell to him from a second Cabaye delivery.
The Potters had their first throw-in soon after, but Delap's missile was calmly dealt with by Krul, a pattern which would resurface time and time again throughout the match.
The first real opening came in the 7th minute, as Danny Guthrie lobbed the ball over the Stoke defence for Gabriel Obertan to chase, but Begovic was alert to the danger.
Stoke responded with pressure of their own but the typical swift wing play and high-pressure football just wasn't there, and it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with the type of goal which has graced the Britannia on so many occasions.
Tim Krul's long punt found Best, who flicked the ball on towards Obertan on the right, and the former Man United winger's beautifully weighted cross was guided home by Ba to give Newcastle a deserved lead.
Stoke could've hit back straight away, had it not been for stout defending from Coloccini, as Walters and Crouch struggled to fire a shot past a wall of black shirts.
However, the Potters were still struggling to impose themselves on the game, and shambolic defending wasn't helping matters.
Ryan Shawcross slipped and let Demba Ba in, but Begovic was again on hand to clear the danger as Newcastle searched for the goal which would put the game beyond the Potters.
The Stoke skipper was then withdrawn with what seemed to be a thigh injury, with Matthew Upson taking his place alongside Jonathan Woodgate.
Stoke have far more to their game than throw-ins, but in front of the TV cameras tonight, you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
As Newcastle pressed for a second goal, the only threat they had to deal with was Rory Delap's throws, and Krul and co coped with them comfortably.
Perhaps the most exciting moment for the Potters in the first half was when Whelan's mis-hit cross was dropped by the Newcastle goalkeeper as the ball rolled out for a corner.
Although, if Newcastle's first goal wasn't plucked straight from the book of typical Stoke goals, their second certainly was.
A long throw from Ryan Taylor was partially cleared by Matthew Upson, but the ball fell to Leon Best, and the striker's screwed shot found Demba Ba, who made no mistake in tapping the ball home from close-range.
A poor first half for the Potters could've ended even worse though, had Best's 25-yard strike not flew harmlessly past Begovic's goal.
Stoke entered the break feeling deflated, but they at least returned with some form of vigour at the start of the second half.
An early Etherington corner was swung into the 6-yard-box for the onrushing Robert Huth, but the German couldn't direct his header downwards as it flew over Krul's goal.
It seemed the visitors were now content to sit on their 2-goal lead as Matthew Upson's back post header from another Etherington corner failed to trouble Krul's goal.
There was still a spark missing though, and Pulis brought on Kenwyne Jones for Matthew Etherington, hoping the striker would be the man to find it.
Jones looked bright and it wasn't long before Stoke found their way back into the match.
Stoke's pressure finally told as Demba Ba was adjudged to have pushed Peter Crouch in the penalty area, and Jon Walters smashed the ball home from the spot to give the Potters an unlikely lifeline.
But, just as it looked as though the tide was turning, a cruel sucker-punch was to come.
Another long throw from Newcastle full back Ryan Taylor was headed away by Robert Huth, but the referee, Mike Dean, saw a push from the defender on Best and awarded the Magpies a chance to seal the three points from the spot.
Demba Ba stepped up and calmly sent Begovic the wrong way as the Senegalese hitman completed a stunning hat-trick to end Stoke's fantastic Premier League home record and continue Newcastle's outstanding start.
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Date:Monday October 31 2011
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