Martin Atkinson is going to want to avoid the papers in Stoke-on-Trent after a nutty first half ended with just nine Potters on the pitch.
Stoke, on brutal away form, came into St. James Park as just the opposite and carried play to the home side, even opening up a 1-0 lead on a superb goal from Oussama Assaidi. The 25-year-old Moroccan moved in from the left wing and into the 18-yard box before sending a dart past Tim Krul.
Then came a boatload of controversy. First, Glenn Whelan picked up a deserved yellow for kicking the ball away after a sloppy foul on Moussa Sissoko before snagging a suspect second for a kick to Yohan Cabaye that the Frenchman appeared to embellish a bit.
Whelan was sent off, and manager Mark Hughes also headed to the stands for booting a loose ball onto the pitch in protest.
The Magpies earned a penalty when last-man Marc Wilson took down Loic Remy in the box. Atkinson gave Wilson a red card and Stoke were down to nine men.
But Thomas Sorensen stopped Remy’s kick and the Potters braced for a challenge. Stoke raced back moments later and were unlucky not to earn a free kick when Mike Williamson blocked a pass with his arm.
Yet there was no whistle, and NUFC roared back in the other direction to see Remy blast home an equalizer.
We met halftime and Newcastle Chronicle scribe Lee Ryder injected a little bit of Northeast cynicism into the event.
Every thing in #nufc favour. Two man advantage and shooting down the bank in second half. What could possibly go wrong!
— Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder) December 26, 2013
The Magpies did not bungle the opportunity, systematically dismantling Stoke in the second half. They scored thrice before adding a penalty and Atkinson’s guilt may have prevented not one, not two but three additional calls for penalties in the remaining minutes.
Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon (Haidara, 61); Sissoko, Cabaye, Anita (Shola Ameobi, 46); Ben Arfa, Remy, Gouffran (Cisse, 72)
Goals: Remy (44, 56), Gouffran (48), Cabaye (66), Cisse (PK, 80)
Stoke City: Sorensen, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Walters, N’Zonzi (Muniesa, 72), Whelan, Adam, Assaidi, Crouch (Palacios, 59)
Goals: Assaidi (29)