Stoppage-time Cisse strike sinks Stoke

Posted by Marc Duffy

Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United/Getty ImagesA pass from substitute Adam Campbell, left, to Sylvain Marveaux set up the winning goal by Papiss Cisse, right.

A stoppage-time winner from Newcastle's Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse handed the Magpies a 2-1 win against Stoke City at a wintry St James' Park Sunday afternoon.

The win lifts Newcastle to 33 points, up two places into 13th in the table and leaves them nine points clear of the relegation zone. Five teams currently sit with 33 points including today's beaten visitors.

-- Match report: Newcastle United 2-1 Stoke

Stoke remain one of the leagues poorest travellers, having won only one away game all season -- though they still sit above Newcastle in the away league table -- and their supporters look to be voting with their feet as they brought one of the smallest away followings seen at St James' Park this season.

Only three of Newcastle's starting outfield 10 Sunday started the Europa League tie with Anzhi in Moscow on Thursday, but you'd be forgiven for thinking all of them had as they laboured to find any momentum in the first half.

The game was ugly. Stoke were happy to sit with an ultra-defensive formation, looking to catch Newcastle on the break. I don't know how much of the 90 minutes actually involved a game taking place, but an awful lot of time was spent as Stoke players too an age to line up throw-ins or goal kicks. It did not help the game as a spectacle.

Newcastle's tactics were totally bemusing. Stoke are probably the most aerially competent team in the Premier League and Newcastle far from it, but that didn't stop Alan Pardew apparently directing the team to a constant stream of long hoofs from Rob Elliot and high balls into the penalty area that Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic consistently collected with ease.

At one point Elliot launched a long high ball towards Yoan Gouffran (5 foot 9), who was marked by Ryan Shawcross (6-3). No prizes for guessing who won that one.

Chances at both ends were limited in the first half -- the best Newcastle chance fell to Gouffran who, leaning backwards, skied his shot into the Leazes End.

Newcastle found some momentum as the second half kicked off but Stoke still restricted them to occasional long-range shots causing no trouble at all. Newcastle had no idea how to break them down, so hey resorted to shooting at every opportunity. Davide Santon even tried a shot from 40 yards and there were still 40 minutes on the clock! Moussa Sissoko, after a quiet first half by his standards, began to drive his team forward, but most moves ended with Begovic collecting the ball comfortably.

It was the visitors who took the lead when Cheik Tiote conceded a ridiculous penalty throwing himself into a needless challenge and fouling Jonathan Walters in the process. Walters got up and scored the penalty himself.

This brought Newcastle to life, and within five minutes Sissoko broke forward and was fouled 19 yards from goal just as he was about to shoot. Yohan Cabaye lined up a free kick that looked impossible to score -- so close to goal and such a towering wall, but he produced yet another wonder goal. His free kick bent over the wall and crashed in off the underside of the cross bar. Absolutely top-class.

Pardew swapped Tiote and Santon for Sylvain Marveaux and Massaido Haidara as Newcastle looked to claim all three points. Both players were involved immediately. A last throw of the dice saw Gouffran make way for little 18-year-old ginger Geordie Adam Campbell.

Campbell made willing runs into the channels but his teammates looked reluctant to involve him. Then, as the game drifted into stoppage time, Campbell played a simple pass to Marveaux who threaded a perfect through ball to Cisse and Cisse buried it. 2-1. Half the ground and apparently Cisse himself thought that he was offside but replays showed he was clearly played on. What a vital goal it could turn out to be.

In summary

Newcastle deserved the win even if just for their attacking intent, but Stoke will be disappointed by losing to such a late goal. This one was never going to be a classic with both teams too often favouring route one tactics, but a win is a win and this three points edges Newcastle further ahead of the drop zone.

It is encouraging the players; heads did not drop, especially Cisse, who had another very poor afternoon until he was on hand to score the vital winner. It was great to see Campbell involved, too.

The games are coming thick and fast. Anzhi come to town on Thursday for Newcastle's 43rd game of the season - the same number of matches they played all of last season, and with a long way still to go in this campaign.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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