Stoke City’s found the dark cloud behind their silver lining, as their nightmare away season may be continuing at St. James Park.
Martin Atkinson has handed out two red cards in two minutes amongst a bevy of questionable late first half decisions, allowing Newcastle United to draw level with the visitors before half.
Twenty-five year-old Oussama Assaidi had put Stoke up after 29 minutes with a brilliant dash inward from the left flank, sending an absolute laser past a flying Tim Krul, but the Morrocan-supplied joy was short-lived for the visitors.
Soon after, Glenn Whelan picked up a yellow card for a sloppy challenge on Moussa Sissoko in the 33rd minute and it wasn’t more than a handful of minutes more before Whelan was sent off. The decision was questionable, as Whelan’s tap to the right leg of Yohan Cabaye was made to look horrific by the French midfielder.
Whelan was off and it was just the beginning of the Potters’ frustration. A member of the coaching staff was sent to the stands as well for his protests.
Just moments later, a second red came Stoke’s way thanks to a rough challenge on last man Loic Remy in the box. Marc Wilson was off and the Potters were down to 10-men.
But Remy missed the kick! A short run-up was not the recipe for success as Thomas Sorensen — no stranger to Northeast drama — stopped the hot Frenchman.
Controversy continued to follow Atkinson on Newcastle’s equalizer. A lightning-quick Stoke counter seemed to have been stopped by a Mike Williamson’s handball outside the box, but there was no whistle. Newcastle marched down the field and Remy would not be denied a second time.
And that’s how we’re at halftime… 1-1 with Newcastle leading in players, 11-9.
Stoke is winless in its last six away matches and has produced just two points.