Stoke 0 Newcastle 1 – Monday 1 January 2018 3pm

Once again Newcastle fans were left scratching their heads at the team selection.

Rafa Benitez making five changes this time and playing with Ayoze Perez as the lone striker.

Three wingers selected with Christian Atsu tried in the middle behind Perez.

A very deserved win and to be honest Newcastle should have been out of sight, such was their superiority.

Stoke may have had 59% possession but in the true story of the match that is 100% misleading.

Atsu alone could have had a hat-trick, with two clear first half chances in particular.

Also in the first half, watch out for Ciaran Clark missing from two yards out, he will be very very relieved that Newcastle still won the game.

It looked like Newcastle United would once again suffer from an official’s decision, a clear penalty denied on Dwight Gayle, Zouma pushing the striker over shortly after his introduction in place of Atsu.

However, an excellent Murphy run a few minutes later, saw him go around his marker and a wonderful low cross eluded Wimmer, Perez producing a composed finish.

Stoke’s only tactic had been hoofing the ball hopefully in the direction of Peter Crouch and once the goal went in that became even more obvious.

The defence were magnificent and really earned their clean sheet, though two of Stoke’s three efforts on target came in the final few minutes.

Karl Darlow producing two superb saves, one of them a brilliant reflex one with his right hand from a close in header.

Not much to like about Stoke, from their manager, through their players, their tactics, and of course their supporters.

Hopefully this is their year to go down.

Happy New Year!

Stats from BBC Sport:

Stoke 0 Newcastle 1

Goals – Perez 73

Possession was Stoke 59% Newcastle 41%

Total shots were  Stoke 7 Newcastle 13

Shots on target were Stoke 3 Newcastle 6

Corners were  Stoke 10 Newcastle 5

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Atsu (Gayle 64), Murphy (Dummett 82), Perez (Hayden 90)

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Joselu, Merino, Haidara

Crowd: 28,471 (3,200 Newcastle)

  • TheNutJob

    Leazes missed the start of the Rafalution

    • HappyToons

      He went for a penalty what ever that is a euphemism for at the BBC these days

    • joe mac

      he,l still pick fault!

    • nufcslf

      Very good. Great new year humour.

  • TheNutJob

    Stonewall penalty, but we don`t get pens, 3 priceless points today. brilliant

  • HappyToons

    Can’t grumble, 3 more points and we would be above Huddersfield and Brighton. The fact we are grouped together probably spells out that is what we should be expecting as interesting to see the three promoted teams together.

    Now bring in some signings!

    • Geordiegiants

      It was never going to be any different, there will be a handful of points between the bottom half all season.

    • Mayor Vaughn

      According to Sky Huddersfield have had a superb first half and their manager along with Dyche and Pep are currently managers of the season.
      Meanwhile according to some at Sky Rafa is playing a dangerous game and should get more scrutiny and some of our play is an embarrassment.
      All about opinions.

  • toonterrier

    Well done lads and a good performance which should give the players and supporters a big lift. Keep it up and we’ll be playing in Europe next season. Well done Rafa.

  • Mike Adam

    To all those who critisized Darlow so much for a single mistake, I think he has more than made up for it today!!! I will take him everyday over Elliot. Much more mobile, he controlled the box today, well done!

    • Mayor Vaughn

      I think they are pretty even in ability, both good enough till the summer imo.

      • Geordiegiants

        Both about the same, I agree, but neither of them are good enough for this division.

      • nufcslf

        Both are fine with a better team in front of them. The defence isn’t the concern, finishing is the nightmare and agree Mitro should’ve been given many more more chances. Here’s hoping for for the 3 or 4 player’s needed to push on. My gut instinct tells me fatty will not do a bloody thing, though.

    • Little Pedro

      Totally agree,

    • Albert Stubbins

      I think there’s a tab paper in it between the two them. Both good on their day but ultimately both inconsistent imo.

      • Mitros gotta start

        I dont trust rafa to be able to find anyone better to replace them….sels was his last pick as our number 1 keeper

        • HarryHype59

          True, what happened to him? :-)

          The absolute priority in this window is an EPL standard forward.

          • Blackburn1066

            a one called Alan !

          • hetonmag

            C’mon Harry give Murphy a mention.

          • HarryHype59

            He has looked better of late and much improved from when he looked like a rabbit in the headlights earlier in the season!

            I still argue the reputed £12m transfer fee should have been used to bring in a better quality CF than the mighty Hoss!

        • Albert Stubbins

          Well peps not coming here anytime soon so you’ll just have to cross your fingers!!

    • DC1964

      He was outstanding today, some fantastic saves and dealt with all the high crosses in the pouring rain.

  • 1957

    I thought Murphy was much more positive today , his best performance for me.

    Clark’s effort will be guaranteed to make the 2018 miss of the season compilation when it airs on tv next December, it was spectacular.

    • DC1964

      It looked harder to miss the target!!

      • thewildchimp

        Well, it’s around 21 sq. yds. in surface and I have a flat that I rent out to university students that is 14 sq. yds… What’s another man’s miss is another man’s living area. Can’t squeeze a washing machine in there no matter what I try, though…

  • Leicester Mag

    Just imagine what difference a premier league class CF would make. Perhaps there are the foundations to build on if only our tub of whale grease could see what is possible.

    • TheNutJob

      it would make a big differance

    • Mitros gotta start

      We have one….rafa wont play him….better goals to games ratio than most premier league strikers

      • Mike Adam

        Unfortunately nobody will ever know! But when you constantly send out CF’s who don’t score game after game, until today, and get the same negative results it boggles the mind why he would not be given a chance.

        • Mitros gotta start

          Maybe he had a trip to the wirral and slipped mrs rafa a length?

          • hetonmag

            How the [email protected]@k do you pass the adjudicator what an ignorant person you must be and shame on the Mag for letting you post this vile statement.

          • Mitros gotta start

            Too spicy for ya?
            Maybe you would be better off staying away if you are that easily upset…..have a nice bath with some smelly bubbles and light some nice candles like some of the other women on here…..all i said was she might be a bit partial to serbian sausage

          • hetonmag

            Ignorant, why put something like that on a football forum your patter just stinks, so you should dive into some bubble and get a good clean.

  • Whickhamrobbie

    If Gayle didnt dive so much and have a reputation we would have got the pen we deserved .
    Sloppy finishing could have cost us but luckily Stoke are looking doomed and i cant see Hughes surviving much longer .
    A good result now lets beat Luton and Swansea .
    Happy new year HWTL.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Great team performance and Rafas team selection and formation justified. Just wish we could also have this kind of performance at stJames’ and we can push on. The right two or three players in January and we should be able to stave (ley) off any relegation fears. Well done today lads!!

  • Dennis Tate

    To much inconsistency from referees. OK Gayle can go down to easily in the penalty area as the man in the middle has found out, so is it now a case of a stone wall penalty you can’t convince me.
    Depends what your name is.

    • gallowgate26

      Okay it was a dive against Manchester City but at the time everyone in the gallowgate was screaming for a penalty and there was contact between the two players, as you could see the direction of Gayle change (before he admittedly threw himself down). It’s hard to tell without the benefit of 5 replays in slow motion. But I do wonder if at the other end Stirling or Aguero went down after contact from Clark in the penalty area, would the referee have made the same decision?

  • Dennis Tate

    Plenty of bluffers out there who get penalties awarded 100% and Dwight Gayle gets short changed with a genuine call.
    Watch the masters of the top clubs they will either wrap a leg around the opposing player or go down at the slightest of touches that’s an art they have practiced.

  • Mxpx

    3 points was very positive but cmon were papering over cracks here Stoke looked like us under John carver the performance was good up until we scored I agree but how many chances did we take to score we need to get the lads some shooting practice in fairness to atsu and Clark they are usually better but what really worried me was that when we scored we immediately backed off and let Charlie Adam run the game when we’d bossed that midfield and kept him completely suppressed until that point we need to get better at closing games out but for darlow and stokes inability to finish the game could have easily been a draw one that we bossed over 3 quarters of too

  • 5floorshigh

    excellent performance ??? I don’t think so !…….thought we were sloppy, lazy, brainless and once again clueless in the last third…..Rafa tactics for last ten minutes almost cost us big points.
    The only player to deserve credit is Darlow, he secured the 3 points and against an awful Stoke team that does not speak of a great team performance !

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    For many people on this site it will be a dreadful start to the New Year the people who had us relegated after the nil nil draw with Brighton. We have conceded one goal in three games a platform for staying up. If the fans get behind us at home instead of having a go at Darlow and several other players we might have a chance .
    Against Brighton the players were a bag of nerves the tension in the Milburn Stand
    will not help the players so for the Swansea game please give it a rest if you want us to stop up and stop shouting at Darlow who had an excellent game today .

    • Dillon Tovak

      Yeah, the constant berating of Darlow every time he didn’t release the ball early was stupid.
      Half the time we had no players forward so releasing early would just give the ball straight back to Brighton.

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      At home, the crowd get on players backs. It’s been the same for years .

    • HarryHype59

      This team is still fighting a relegation battle! Don’t let a narrow win against a poor Stoke side fool you!

    • magpiefifer

      One win will not change our perilous position – two or three could!
      It was a much better performance,BUT against a decent side we would probably have paid dearly for the many missed chances.

    • Gandalf Greyhame

      Interesting comments about the crowd at St. James Park berating the players – Newcastle’s record this year and last year in the Championship is nearly the same for home and away games – I’ve been wondering why they don’t do better at home like most teams do. Too many hypercritical fans.