Stoke crash on Tyneside
St. James Park
16th January 2007
Stoke City were undone by a Newcastle United PR coup as they unveiled their new manager just hours before their FA Cup clash with the Potters which inflated the Toon Army - literally and metaphorically and simultaneously deflated the Potters. The return of the prodigal son, in the shape of Kevin Keegan, to St. James Park gave Newcastle a boost which the Potters never overcame. The kick-off had to be delayed 15 minutes as the Toon Army arrived in their hordes to welcome back their hero.
Stoke took the fight to the home side for a meer five minutes before Michael Owen found the form that had been so lacking in the match at the Brit. A cross from Damien Duff cannoned off Richard Cresswell and Danny Pugh before landing at Owen's feet whereupon he scrambled the ball into the back of the net. The worst start possible for the Potters, but there seemed to be a glimmer of hope as Emre was sent off on the half hour mark for a cynical tackle on John Eustace. But, whilst the Magpies were down to ten men, it only seems to spur the home side on and they went further ahead just two minutes later from a corner which Cacapa fired home.
You hoped that a half-time team talk from Tony Pulis would start to revive Stoke's fortunes and indeed Jon Parkin had a great chance when he attempted to lob the keeper, Shay Given from the edge of the penalty area, but the ball went well wide. A further chance from a cross from Liam Lawrence came to Rory Delap but he only managed to head into the side netting.
The match was then all but over, when Newcastle twice found gaping holes in the Stoke defence with Milner and Duff both scoring comparatively easy goals.
It was not until the 89th minute that the 3,000 travelling fans had something to cheer about. Liam Lawrence had a great shot from the edge of the penalty area which looped over the Newcastle defence and gave Given no chance as it buried itself in the top left hand corner of the net.
So the dream was over, but what a shame that the Potters surrendered so tamely to virtually the same team that they had given such a fright to just ten days before.
Still, as the saying goes, we'll just have to concentrate on the league.....