Newcastle United made it three straight wins in the Premier League with a 2-1 and well deserved win against a combative Stoke side. The win lifts the Magpies to the heady heights of 4th in the table and served to lift the mood even further around St James Park after a tough opening to the season.
STARTING XI: Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba, Hayden (Shelvey, 69), Merino, Ritchie, Perez (Diame, 86), Atsu, Joselu (Gayle, 78)
Rafa would make a couple of changes to the starting eleven, introducing Yedlin back to the first team after his layoff due to injury whilst Atsu would also return to the side after only making the bench last time out.
The reintroduction of Atsu in particular would be telling as his trike as early as the 19th minute would put the home side ahead after a good start from Rafa’s men.
Yet again Matt Ritchie would be the provider as his sumptuous cross from the right would leave the Stoke keeper and defenders in no mans land with Atsu steaming in at the back post for a tap in after getting on the blind side of his full back.
Newcastle could have doubled their lead a couple of minutes later but this time Captain Jamaal Lascelles would see his header flash wide of Butland’s right hand post.
With Stoke starting to get back into he game it would be Newcastle again however who would come closest to adding to the scoreline. This time a little step inside his man from Mbemba just inside the Stoke half would allow the defender room to curl a delicious through ball into the area. But whilst Joselu did make the run onto the ball he didn’t seem to realise that the defence had stayed static behind him meaning his first time half volley wide of the Stoke right post could and should have been so much more as the striker should have taken all the time he wanted to control the ball and slot home.
And the big Spanish forward was guilty again of wasting a glorious chance just after the half hour when a deflected Yedlin shot landed right as his feet but again his instincts would let him down as his lame toe poke would roll straight back to the Stoke keeper when yet again Joselu had more time to take a touch and slam home.
It was starting to feel like a day of missed chances for Newcastle who would see the 1-0 scoreline to half time.
And when, almost straight from kick off, Joselu was found unmarked again on 46 minutes, this time taking the ball down, taking his time and firing towards the top corner only to see his effort miss the target once more the nerves certainly seemed to be jangling for the big striker and with some of the crowd who were once again magnificent throughout.
On 57 minutes those fears were realised when Shaqiri cut in from the right flank and drilled the ball low and hard past Elliot to equalise.
Newcastle though seem like they are made of stronger stuff this season than last time they were in the Premier League. The togetherness and leadership that is now audible across the ranks means they were never likely to crumble under that disappointment.
Instead the black and white pushed forward once more, roared on by the crowd. The crowd themselves seemingly irritated by yet another inept performance from the officials and persistent diving from certain members of the Stoke ranks.
But with all in black and white still reeling from another decision turned away after Atsu was seemingly felled in the Stoke box when clean through Newcastle would find another breakthrough.
And once more it was Captain fantastic Jamaal Lascelles who got it. A corner from Ritchie (provider once more) and a failed zonal marking system once more allowed Lascelles to fight his way to the ball first and head home off the underside of the cross bar. 2-1 with 70 minutes gone.
Stoke would fashion a couple of good chances towards the end but Newcastle United would more than hang on for all three points.
Another day, another 3 points.
Just 31 more needed for safety now as this winning streak is taken to Brighton next.