English Premiership

Newcastle salvage a draw

2009-04-12 05:00
Alan Shearer

Stoke - Newcastle salvaged a crucial 1-1 draw at Stoke on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation. With only nine minutes to play at the Britannia Stadium, Alan Shearer was facing his second successive defeat since taking over as Newcastle's caretaker boss until the end of the season.

Former Newcastle midfielder Abdoulaye Faye gave Stoke a first half lead but Shearer had sent on Andy Carroll midway through the second half and the young striker responded by heading an 81st minute equaliser. Shearer's switch could prove vital in the final reckoning as the point lifted Newcastle to third bottom of the table above Middlesbrough, who had won earlier on Saturday, and within two points of safety.

Shearer had made five changes from the team beaten by Chelsea in his first match, with Sebastien Bassong returning from a groin injury, while David Edgar, Damien Duff, Danny Guthrie and Shola Ameobi also came in. All the changes failed to galvanise Newcastle as Stoke set about bombarding the visitors' defence. They forced two corners inside the opening three minutes and came close to taking the lead from the second.

From Liam Lawrence's inswinger to the corner of the six-yard box Ryan Shawcross was allowed to rise all too easily, only to glance his header across the face of Stephen Harper's goal.

Then Ricardo Fuller flicked a header towards the far post, with the loose ball falling to James Beattie whose close-range effort was blocked by Harper. Duff panicked as Stoke continued to press and his clearance went straight to Rory Delap, whose cross caused more chaos. Harper tried to punch clear but Fuller got there first and headed narrowly over.

Stoke's dominance was rewarded in the 33rd minute as Faye once again made his former employers regret selling him in August. Faye, who left St James' Park for Stoke in a two million pounds deal, had already scored a late equaliser against his old club in December, and he tormented them again from a disputed corner. Newcastle were furious that referee Chris Foy gave Stoke a corner even though the ball clearly came off Fuller last, but the City captain took full advantage as he was left totally unmarked to meet Lawrence's corner with a stooping header past Harper.

It could have been 2-0 in the closing minute of the half as a point-blank Fuller header from another Lawrence corner was beaten away by Harper. From the rebound, Fuller's second attempt caught Ameobi's arm but Foy waved away Stoke's appeals.

Just a minute into the second half Bassong was forced to clear off his line from a Glenn Whelan header after he had been teed up by Fuller. Minutes later Ryan Taylor did the same to deny Shawcross after the defender flicked on a Lawrence free-kick.

Stoke could have won it when Fuller and Whelan set up Etherington, but from just inside the area and with only Harper to beat, the winger dragged his shot wide.

A minute later Shearer sent on Carroll for Ameobi. It was to prove the decisive moment. Carroll was a danger straight away as he headed inches past the right-hand post from Taylor's cross. Suddenly Newcastle began to push forward with belief and, nine minutes from time, they drew level when Carroll met Duff's cross with a looping header drifted over Sorensen's despairing dive.

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