United fail to score from a set-piece

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Wednesday night sees one of the Barclays Premier League's set-piece specialists host a side which has fared rather less well from dead-ball situations so far, and Alan Pardew admits his team have been working hard in an effort to carry more of a threat from free-kicks and corners.

Stoke have long been renowned for scoring goals through set-plays, from Rory Delap's famous long throw to the clever routine which allowed Jon Walters to give them the lead against West Ham earlier this month.

By contrast, Newcastle have created little outside of open play this term and Pardew is keen to rectify that - and maybe even beat the Potters at their own game.

"We've changed our whole outlook on set-plays just this week and we've had to change it once already this season because we're just not getting enough success," he admitted.

"There's no point in sitting on your hands and going 'oh well, it'll come good' - you have to make changes.

"The bottom line is we need the first contact to be won and that's what Stoke do very well. They win the first contact and it always gives you a chance of scoring straight from that contact or from the second contact.

"You can only look at something and try to improve on it, and we're going to have to try and improve on it."

Stoke go into the game unbeaten at the Britannia Stadium this term, but Newcastle ran out 3-1 winners in this fixture last season with Demba Ba scoring a hat-trick.

Pardew said: "They're always very, very difficult to beat.

"Tony (Pulis) sets his team up and they're a strong, physical unit. Set-plays they excel at and they're very good defensively so it's hard for any team to go and break them down.

"That's something that we need to try and achieve. We won there last year with one of our big results of the season and obviously we're going to have to try and emulate that.

"You need to play your own game but you need to be able to cope with theirs - that's the question they ask. They find teams out by doing that and we have great respect for what they do."