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Stoke 1 Newcastle 3

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Britannia Stadium

Stoke City 1 (Walters 75)

Newcastle United 3 (Ba 12, 40, 81)

Demba Ba struck a Halloween hat-trick to inflict Stoke City's first home league defeat of the season - and three was the magic number as the Senegal star's treble lifted Newcastle to third in the Barclays Premier League.

It was Ba's second three-goal haul of the season and came as he headed home Gabriel Obertan's floated delivery then tapped home from Leon Best's shot-cum-cross on the stroke of half-time.

Jonathan Walters pulled one back from the spot but Ba scored a penalty of his own moments later to make it eight goals for the season - each of them coming in his last five league games.

Alan Pardew made one change from the team which beat Wigan nine days earlier, with Cheik Tiote's knee injury seeing him replaced by Danny Guthrie.

In a positive start, United forced two early corners and from the second, Yohan Cabaye's delivery was half-cleared to Ryan Taylor a good 30 yards out. The left-back went for an ambitious volley from 25 yards and it whistled just wide.

Then on 12 minutes, having soaked up everything Stoke - and Rory Delap in particular - had to throw at them in the opening exchanges, the Magpies took the lead.

Guthrie's pass found Obertan racing down the right and his cross was perfect for Ba to head home and the striker - who almost joined Stoke last season - was only denied a second when he capitalised on a slip from Ryan Shawcross but Asmir Begovic was quickly off his line to smother.

That was Shawcross' last action as the Potters captain was replaced by Matthew Upson on 19 minutes and the England international met a Delap long throw four minutes later, but headed well off target.

At the other end, a glorious Cabaye ball so nearly released Ba, who was playing on the shoulder of the Stoke defence, but Begovic sprinted out of his box to sweep up.

In the 35th minute, another long throw was headed out by Leon Best but Matthew Etherington was lurking on the edge of the box. His half-volley was well struck, but Krul was in the right place to save.

With five minutes left of the half remaining, Fabricio Coloccini's chipped pass was brought down by Best and drilled across goal, where Ba was waiting to slot home.

Best came close with a shot from range in first-half stoppage time, by which time Pulis had brought on Robert Huth for Marc Wilson.

The big German's arrival added further to Stoke's aerial threat and he headed over from an Etherington corner, then almost forced home from a Delap throw at the start of the second half.

Upson then headed wide at the far post from another Etherington flag-kick as Pulis' side - who had come out early at the interval, presumably after a rollicking from their manager - looked for a way back into the game.

And on 74 minutes, the home side were handed a lifeline as referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot. Glen Whelan's cross caused was met by Delap and although Coloccini headed his effort away from the line, the ensuing high hall caused havoc and Ba was adjudged to have pushed the giant Peter Crouch in the box.

Walters hammered the ball into the net from 12 yards to half the defecit and Pardew responded by bringing on James Perch for Cabaye, with the former Nottingham Forest man playing in a defensive midfield role.

But United were awarded a penalty of their own soon afterwards when Best was shoved as he challenged for Ryan Taylor's long throw.

Up stepped Ba to continue his fine run in front of goal. Seconds later, Obertan flashed a shot inches wide of the far post but, despite five minutes of stoppage time, it was Newcastle who ruled at the Britannia.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Asmir Begovic; Andy Wilkinson, Ryan Shawcross (c) (Matthew Upson 19), Jonathan Woodgate, Marc Wilson (Robert Huth 42); Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap, Glenn Whelan, Matthew Etherington (Kenwyne Jones 68); Jonathan Walters, Peter Crouch

Subs not used: Thomas Sorensen, Dean Whitehead, Cameron Jerome, Wilson Palacios

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan, Danny Guthrie (Dan Gosling 90), Yohan Cabaye (James Perch 78), Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best (Sammy Ameobi 87), Demba Ba

Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Davide Santon, Sylvain Marveaux, Hatem Ben Arfa

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 26,564

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