Fluent Stoke ease past Newcastle
12th April 2014 3pm
Stoke continued their impressive form as they eased to victory against a below-par Newcastle United, thanks to Erik Pieters first Potters goal.
The left back`s cross, which fortunately found its way into the back of Tim Krul`s net was enough for Stoke to record a fourth win in five games and to move within three points of the Magpies, who sit in 9th position.
The Potters should have put the game to bed and won by a canter, but were wasteful in front of goal, especially striker Peter Crouch.
Newcastle, who have had a number off field issues, were poor throughout the game, failing to threaten the Potters goal, as their travelling fans voiced their concerns.
Most of the Magpie players had the aura of already being on their summer holidays as the team has nothing really left to play for as they stutter to the end of the season.
Mark Hughes made one change to the team that lost at Stamford Bridge as Stephen Ireland came in for Wilson Palacios.
Alan Pardew was once again in the stands as he continues to serve his touchline ban for his head-butt of Hull`s David Meyler.
The Newcastle gaffer made four changes to his side that lost at home to Manchester United, with Rob Elliott, Davide Santon, Massadio Haidara and Luuk de Jong making way for Tim Krul, Rob Dummett, Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi as he moved to five at the back to try and nullify Stoke`s attacking options on either flank.
The tactical tweak was not enough though as the Potters caused mayhem on either flank as they put in another fluent and confident performance, to once again enhance that Hughes` philosophy has been grasped by the players and has started to reap the rewards.
Marko Arnautovic, who was superb throughout, both going forward and tracking back in defence, created space for himself down the left and swung in an inch perfect cross which found Peter Crouch, who could only head onto the post from 8-yards out in the first 10 minutes.
This set the precedence for the afternoon as Arnautovic continually beat his man on the left hand side, only for personnel in the middle failing to capitalise on the chances created by the Austrian.
Stoke managed to break the deadlock just before half time when Erik Pieters cross was assisted by the usual swirling Britannia Stadium wind to find the far side of Tim Krul`s goal to give the Dutchman his first Premier League goal since his January transfer from PSV in the summer.
Stoke continued to press in the second half but Crouch was once again wasteful as he could only find Krul`s mid drift with a diving header after a superb cross from American Geoff Cameron. The former England striker also header over after Arnautovic once again found him free in the penalty area with a superb cross.
Arnautovic also had a chance to score himself after a strong breakaway chance, but he delayed his shot too long before just missing his teammates in the box with his cut back.
Newcastle nearly found a way back into the game and an undeserved point but Dutch midfielder Anita couldn`t direct Ameobi`s cross goalwards.
Possible his best performance in a Stoke City shirt.