NEWCASTLE UTD 4 STOKE CITY FC 1
The carefully orchestrated announcement of Keegan's return to St. James's,adulatory national news coverage at peak time,ahead of tonights match,the appearance of the man himself in the Directors Box flanked by the Chairman and the owner a few minutes into the first half,all served to generate an emotional tide which swept around the city and the stadium which submerged The Potters for long periods of this game.
Yesterday we might have expected a smaller,edgier home crowd...a subdued home team following their 6-0 mauling at Manchester.What we got was a totally transformed atmosphere,a bigger crowd (boosted by very late ticket sales) in party mood,plus a home team uplifted,and feeling it just couldn't lose.
Michael Owen opened the scoring in the 8th minute.Newcastle had Emre sent off for running his studs down Eustaces shin on 30 minutes- payback as he saw it for an earlier crunching tackle on him by the same player which only merited a free kick awarded by ref Uriah Rennie.Almost immediately an unmarked Cacapa headed in the second goal from Milner's corner.
Stoke were still second best after the break, Milner(68) and Duff(76)doubling the home side's lead.
In the early moments of the first half before Newcastle's opener Liam Lawrence had produced a fine cross shot from the right which keeper Given pushed away (to Ryan Shawcross whose follow up found the side netting).Liam didn't really show again until the 89th minute when he curled a beautiful shot into the net from the left edge of the penalty box for Stoke's consolation goal...more an act of stubborn defiance really, delivered with genuine quality.Subtext....we'll be back!
What about the 3,000 Stokies? Great support for the team from beginning to end ...brilliant!
No disgrace in the circumstances,and Stoke can now return to the more important business of the Championship,with a 'little'more money in the pot to finance their ambition.