Cissé stays in line to claim points for Newcastle
Stoppage-time winner finally breaks defiant Stoke
Newcastle United's Papiss Cisse scores the winning goal against Stoke City. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters
Date: 10 March, 2013
Venue: St James' Park
An afternoon dominated by snow, swirling wind, set-pieces and another stellar defensive display from Newcastle United's Steven Taylor was decided by Papiss Cissé's stoppage-time winner.
Cissé had spent much of the afternoon being caught offside but there was no flag as he met Sylvain Marveaux's pass before easing Newcastle's lingering relegation worries by half-volleying the ball beyond Asmir Begovic in front of the Gallowgate End.
Kicking off in a snowstorm, Newcastle could have been forgiven for believing they were still in Russia. Alan Pardew had made seven changes to his starting line-up as he refreshed his side following Thursday's impressive 0-0 Europa Leg first-leg draw against Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow. The bad news for St James' Park regulars was that Hatem Ben Arfa was injured again and did not even make the bench.
Notably poor travellers, Stoke – for whom Michael Owen stayed on the bench – arrived on a bad run which had resulted in Tony Pulis's team winning only one of their last nine games. All long, high balls and playing the percentages they were hardly easy on the eye, even if Glenn Whelan's passing from midfield served as a reminder that he can play a bit, but they succeeded in thoroughly frustrating Newcastle during a first half when Pardew's players had plenty of possession but were unable to do much with it.
Indeed Stoke might easily have had a penalty when Ryan Shotton surged down the right and collapsed after seeming to fall over the pursuing Davide Santon's trailing leg. Tony Pulis – who judging by his non-stop screaming at players from the technical area is blessed with prodigious lung power – was furious at that but he had reason for relief when Yohan Cabaye sent an early shot swerving a couple of yards wide.
As ever Cabaye tended to be involved in Newcastle's best moments and his deflected through pass for Yoan Gouffran prefaced the French striker failing to squeeze a free shot from six yards beyond Begovic, instead sending the ball looping harmlessly over the bar.
When Cabaye connected with a Santon cross he saw another shot deflected wide for a corner but, generally, there was little for the 50,000 plus crowd to get excited about on a strong contender for St James' Park's coldest afternoon of the season. Their collective mood was hardly lifted by Cissé's penchant for persistently being caught offside.
Early in the second half Cheik Tioté picked out Moussa Sissoko – hitherto well policed by Stoke – leaving him one on one against Begovic. The goalkeeper dashed out to the edge of the area, narrowing Sissoko's options and forcing him to hoist a shot high and wide.
At the other end Rob Elliot had little to do but well as Taylor – surely a candidate for an England call-up from Roy Hodgson – and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were doing at centre half Pardew's concern was that Stoke could take an unlikely lead on the counter-attack. Accordingly he had Mathieu Débuchy to thank for intercepting superbly as Peter Crouch chested the ball down in preparation for a volley which would have been unleashed from a highly dangerous position.
Otherwise Pulis's side only really looked likely to score from a set-piece. Unfortunately for Pardew they did precisely that in the 67th minute when, all too typically, a brainless foul on Jonathan Walters in the area on Tioté's part resulted in a penalty. Walters's low kick into the bottom corner evaded Elliot's grasp.
Five minutes later Newcastle were level, their equaliser deriving from another dead ball. Whelan brought Sissoko down just outside the area and Cabaye took the ensuing free kick lifting the ball over the wall before seeing it curve into the top corner.
Then just as a draw beckoned, Marveaux showed what an inspired substitute he can be and Cisse finally timed his run right. As he celebrated his presssure-easing winner Pardew wore the contented expression of a man who knows he can afford to field a team against Anzhi on Thursday.