Half-time report: Newcastle v Stoke City

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Half-time report: Newcastle v Stoke City
Newcastle 1 Stoke City 0
A Kevin Nolan penalty, five minutes before the break, put Newcastle ahead against Stoke City at St James' Park.
A needless challenge from Stoke defender Robert Huth on Andy Carroll left referee Michael Jones with no option but to point to the spot, and the Newcastle captain duly stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson certainly looked nervous in the opening minutes of the match and made several shaky clearances. Newcastle had started the first-half on top, and with the classy Hatem Ben Arfa were controlling the tempo of the game's early stages, but struggled to create too many clear-cut opportunities.
Another poor kick from Sorenson allowed Newcastle to attack just before the 20 minute mark, and that passage of play led to a free-kick for the hosts in a dangerous position outside of the Stoke penalty area.
Ben Arfa stepped up to take the set-piece, but the France international's left-footed curling effort sailed harmlessly wide of the Potters' goal.
Then, moments later, Chris Hughton's side threatened to take the lead again following more good work in the attacking third. Full-back Jose Enrique fizzed a low ball across the face of Sorenson's goal, although no Newcastle player was quick enough to get to the back post in time.
It took until the 24th minute for Stoke to get their first real sight of goal. Kenwyne Jones was presented with it, but the powerful striker could only scruff his shot wide of Tim Krul's right-hand post.
With chances few and far between for both sides, the opening 45 minute looked set to peter out with the scores level at 0-0. However, a moment of madness from Huth allowed Nolan to give Newcastle a priceless lead from the penalty spot.
The Stoke defender blocked off Carroll when the cross looked to be sailing into the arms of Sorenson, but the Magpies' captain wasn't about to waste the opportunity. He stepped up to confidently to dispatch his spot-kick coolly past the Stoke keeper, leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb.



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