Saturday 21 April 2018

Pulis cranks up siege mentality as Magpies fall

Newcastle Utd 1 Stoke city 2

James Mellor

In a week where Stoke City have come under renewed scrutiny for the robust approach of some of their players, manager Tony Pulis mounted a robust riposte to their numerous critics, insisting others, including their vanquished opponents, have equal need to get their houses in order.

Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson has been dealt with 'in house' for his fearsome challenge on Fulham's Mousa Dembele in midweek, but after climbing out of the bottom three with their first victory at St James' Park for 35 years, Pulis cranked up the siege mentality at the Britannia Stadium to unprecedented levels.

Believed to be referring to a first-half incident involving Joey Barton, which had no bearing on the result and wasn't flagged up at the time, Pulis said: "We've had bad publicity this week with Andy's challenge, but I was really disappointed when one of the Newcastle players went down and I think simulated an injury from a challenge. Three passes later he was running around as if nothing has happened.

"The PFA have a responsibility to make sure their players don't do things like that. You put other players and officials under enormous pressure doing that. We've been highlighted with one or two other clubs as being supposedly over-physical but other aspects of the game need addressing."

The allegation was rebuffed by Chris Hughton, whose Newcastle side succumbed to a second successive home defeat after a 26-game unbeaten run in front of their own supporters. "There was no play-acting from any of our players," he insisted. "I'd be very surprised at that. I can't legislate for the opinions of other managers but I refute those allegations."

That Stoke finished the contest with five former Sunderland players on the field rubbed salt in the wounds as Newcastle capitulated after the break, the visitors' comeback rounded off by James Perch heading into his own net from Matthew Etherington's 85th-minute corner. Kevin Nolan had earlier put Newcastle ahead from the penalty spot after Robert Huth was adjudged to have fouled Andy Carroll, before Kenwyne Jones had drawn Stoke level.

Irish Independent

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