Pouring rain was a fitting scene at the Britannia.
Alan Pardew could find himself at the managerial guillotine as Newcastle slumped to a disjointed 1-0 loss to Stoke City.
Peter Crouch scored in the opening 15 minutes, and it was enough to kill off Newcastle as Jack Colback clattered the post on the would-be equalizer with just seven minutes to go.
The match was largely back-and-forth but featured few moments of real quality, as each had to navigate the sopping wet conditions and both had numerous chances but ultimately blocked shots, poor passes, and chippy play dominated the scene.
The two sides began not nervy, but cautious as each side remained conservative and lumped in long crosses into the box aimed at a few attackers surrounded by many defenders.
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It worked for Stoke. A ball from Victor Moses came into the box for Peter Crouch, and the tall, lanky striker did what he does best, rising above Fabricio Coloccini to powerfully head the ball into the back of the net in the 15th minute.
Crouch was just one of two Stoke men in the box surrounded by five Newcastle defenders, but managed to get on the end of the ball anyways. He then celebrated like this, if you can call it a “celebration.”
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The goal instantly ignited the Newcastle away fans, who began to chant “You’re getting sacked in the morning at Pardew” and displayed a banner that said “hopeless.”
Newcastle came close to saving their manager just minutes after, as Moussa Sissoko cut back in the box and ripped one for the far corner but it stung harmlessly wide by just a few inches.
The shot had come moments after Stoke had a legitimate penalty claim on the other end, as Yoan Gouffran bodied Moses off the ball, but referee Craig Pawson wasn’t interested. Mame Diame pulled up lame on the build-up, forcing him off early and replaced by Marko Arnautovic.
Newcastle began to dominate the play as the match eased towards the half-hour mark, but were again exposed at the back. Crouch had a chance for a double, but lashed his shot way wide after being played in by Moses again.
The visitors looked to get back level just before halftime, but Daryl Janmaat’s long-range heatseeker towards the bottom corner was saved well by a diving Asmir Begovic.
After the break, Arnautovic clattered the post with a wonderful low strike that had easily beaten Tim Krul to the outside. The shot signaled Stoke’s return to the ascendency, and they asked questions of the Newcastle defense for a second. Stephen Ireland fired over on 65 minutes as Moses continued to sliced up the Toon midfield.
Both teams got sloppy as the rain eased up, but Newcastle let slip away a glorious chance to salvage the match as Jack Colback latched on to a cross from Gabriel Obertan at point-blank range, but with Ryan Shawcross on his hip, the 24-year-old crashed the ball against the corner of the bar and the chance evaporated, along with Pardew’s hopes to ease pressure on his position.
With the loss, Newcastle draw even with Burnley for joint-bottom of the table, owning just three points this year and a -7 goal differential. Stoke pull even on points with five other clubs at eight points, as they begin to put a disappointing start to the year behind them.
Stoke City: Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Muniesa; Whelan, Nzonzi; Diouf (Arnautovic 23′), Adam (Ireland 61′), Moses (Assaidi 82′); Crouch.
Goals: Crouch 15′
Newcastle United: Krul; Janmaat, Coloccini, Williamson, Dummett; Tiote, Colback; Sissoko, Cabella (Sammy Ameobi 74′), Gouffran (Obertan 68′); Riviere (Cisse 46′).