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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
21 April 2012
• St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Referee: A. Marriner
• Attendance: 52162
Y. Cabaye 14', 57'
P. Cissé 18'
90' + 3'
The referee blows for full time! Newcastle record their sixth straight win with a comfortable and convincing performance against Stoke. The visitors were never really in the match, while the hosts continue their fine form at the right time of the season as the surge back into the top four. Thanks for joining me this afternoon!
90' + 1'
The resulting corner is a dangerous one but it evades everyone in the six yard box and goes behind for a goal kick. A minute later, Crouch is then played in by Whitehead but Santon covers and eases the striker off the ball, allowing him to clear. Looks like being another clean sheet for Tim Krul.
Stoke threaten this time with a cross from the right but there's no-one in the box for the visitors and Williamson clears.
Double save from Begovic! Gutierrez wins a free kick in a dangerous position 25 yards from goal. Ba's effort cannons off the wall to Tiote, who rifles a shot towards the top right corner only for the Stoke stopper to get a hand to it and tip it over for a corner. Tiote then tries again when the corner reaches him but Begovic beats it away!
Another chance for Walters! Whelan plays a superb through ball for the frontman to run on to, but he fires a shot high and wide from five yards in front of Krul's near post. That's been the difference today - Stoke have created some good chances, but the finishing has been poor. Final change for Newcastle as Dan Gosling replaces Danny Simpson.
Penalty shout for Newcastle! Santon heads off on another marauding run, and drives towards the byline as Shotton come across to cover before going to ground. Difficult to see whether the defender got a touch or not, but the ball looked to be heading out anyway.
The tempo has just slowed here a little. The hosts look content to see this one through to full-time, while Stoke are becoming frustrated by a compact Newcastle side.
Substitute Ameobi concedes a free kick 30 yards out with his first involvement, but Huth fires the ball straight into the wall. That was a waste for Stoke, who are struggling to break through a resilient Newcastle defence here.
End-to-end stuff at the moment here, as Ba has two chances in the space of a minute: first he cuts in from the right and tries to bend a shot past Begovic, but he can't generate the power to beat the keeper. A minute later, he tries his luck from 25 yards but his shot is blocked behind, and Coloccini heads over from the corner when unmarked !
Best chance of the half for Stoke! A rare loose touch from Ben Arfa allows Whitehead to slide the ball through to Walters, but he slices the ball wide with his left foot from 20 yards. Much better from Stoke, but they need to take one of these chances soon.
Good chance for Crouch this time! The corner falls to the big man at the back post, who controls the bouncing ball before firing goalwards only for a host of Newcastle bodies to deny him. Probably should have been a handball given against Crouch anyway.
Ba has looked lively all afternoon, and almost found himself through on goal there but Shotton timed his tackle perfectly. Meanwhile, two-goal hero Cabaye is replaced by James Perch to a raucous reception from the home crowd.
That change for Stoke looks like being too little too late for Tony Pulis's side. Newcastle have been dominant here, and look as though they have plenty more goals in them yet.
GOAL!! 3-0!! This time it counts for Newcastle! Ben Arfa and Ba both try to worm their way through a packed Stoke defence. The ball breaks for Cabaye, who bends the ball first-time past Begovic into the bottom corner. Game over here, you'd think.
Goal for Newcastle - no! Offside! Ba's shot from the edge of the area is spilled by Begovic, allowing Cisse to pounce and scramble the ball home only to be denied by the linesman's flag. Replays suggest that was a harsh call. Meanwhile, Tony Pulis is going all-out to get back into the match, as Cameron Jerome enters the fray in place of Palacios.
Stoke seemed to have woken up after that Ba chance. Some good pressure in the Newcastle half allows Shotton some space down the right, who fires a cross in which Williamson does well to head clear.
Chance with the first attack of the half! Ben Arfa is once again at the heart of the action, floating a delightful ball from the right to Demba Ba, who brings the ball down on his chest only for Begovic to block his effort six yards from goal. The game could have been out of sight but for that save.
Yellow CardRyan Shawcross
Stoke get the second half underway here. They need something soon in this half if they're to find a way back into the match.
45' + 2'
A chance for Newcastle right at the end of the half as Ba slides in his strike partner Cisse, who is denied a clear opening by a brilliant sliding tackle from Shawcross. As it is, we go into the break with the score at 2-0, leaving Arsenal fans beginning to look nervously over their shoulders.
The early sun may have been replaced by rain on Tyneside, but there will be little about the first half to dampen Newcastle spirits. Stoke have grown into the game and are enjoying better possession, but the hosts look as if they will go into the break with a comfortable lead.
Good effort from Santon! Cabaye plays the full-back through down the left. He cuts inside the area and, seeing no option in support, hits a low shot with his right foot which Begovic holds at the near post.
Half a chance for Stoke there! Etherington's in-swinging corner is flicked on at the near post by Shawcross, but again there's no-one arriving from deep for the visitors and the ball goes behind for a goal kick.
Yellow CardWilson Palacios
Stoke are looking for Crouch when they can, and the England man has looked a threat in the air but has lacked support from his teammates. A good spell of pressure from the visitors comes to an end as Ben Arfa skips away from Palacios and the Honduran hauls him down, earning a yellow card for his troubles.
Things go from bad to worse for the visitors as Andy Wilkinson is forced off through injury to be replaced by Dean Whitehead.
The crowd may have gone quiet again here but the home fans have certainly enjoyed proceedings so far. Newcastle look fresh and lively on the ball, and Stoke would do well to keep themselves in the match before half time.
The hosts look in the mood for goals today. Cabaye this time has an effort from range which fails to trouble Begovic, but Stoke are struggling to deal with the Frenchman and his compatriot Ben Arfa.
Good break from Newcastle following a Stoke free kick. Ba plays in Simpson down the right and Huth has to head his cross behind. Ben Arfa tries a low corner and only a brilliant block denies Ba a clear shot from close range.
We're not even a quarter of the way through here and already Newcastle are looking certain to break back into the top four tonight. A half-chance for Stoke as the ball breaks to Whelan from a free-kick, but he can't control the shot. Stoke need to get a foothold in this match quickly.
GOAL!! AND IT'S 2-0 NEWCASTLE!! Cabaye returns the favour to Papiss Cisse, sliding a fantastic pass through a static Stoke defence allowing the Senegal striker to slot home into the far corner!
The home crowd have found that voice after that goal, with the early nerves seemingly calmed by Cabaye's header.
GOAL!! 1-0 NEWCASTLE!! Terrific work from Ben Arfa as he skips past Wilson down the left. He clips a ball to the back post to Cisse, whose header bounces down off the bar allowing Cabaye to nod home from point-blank range!
Great chance for Stoke!! Wilkinson hits a high cross-field ball towards Crouch on the edge of the penalty area. The big man nods the ball into the path of the arriving Walters, but he can't control the shot on the volley and lifts it harmlessly over the bar. Big let off for Coloccini and co. there!
The visiting Stoke faithful are making plenty of noise here, and they almost had cause to cheer even more loudly when Etherington picked up the ball on the edge of the area, but the winger flashed his shot over the bar.
The hosts have had control of the play in the cagey opening minutes here. Ba picks up the ball and has a dig from all of 35 yards, but the ball sails harmlessly into the upper tiers of the stand. He'll certainly be eager to get on the scoresheet today.
Both sides seem content to sit back and feel their way into this one. Newcastle seem to be starting with Ba playing to the left, with Cisse alone down the middle. Interesting switch in play from Alan Pardew.
And the hosts get us underway in the Tyneside sunshine!
And Stoke: Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Shotton, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington; Walters, Crouch. SUBS: Sorensen, Upson, Whitehead, Pennant, Jones, Jerome, Fuller.
Newcastle team is as follows: Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa; Ba, Cisse. SUBS: Elliot, Ferguson, Perch, Gosling, Taylor, Best, Shola Ameobi.
Good afternoon everyone! A very warm welcome to this afternoon's live play-by-play commentary of Newcastle v Stoke at Sports Direct Arena. We're just five minutes from kick-off here in what could be a crucial match in the race for the Champions League...
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