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Nov, 29, 2012

Substitutes spark Stoke City revival

Tony Pulis played down any talk of inspired tactical substitutions after his resurgent Stoke City side scored twice in the last ten minutes to salvage a 2-1 victory at home to Newcastle United on Wednesday.

• Blog: What a difference pace makes

Cameron Jerome was introduced in the 68th minute to set up the headed equaliser for Jon Walters and then drive in the winner five minutes from time after a headed pass by fellow substitute Kenwyne Jones.

Pulis insists the efforts of Jerome and Jones reflected their hunger for more match time.

"I've got this thing in my mind about whether people will think the changes were brilliant or whether I should have started with those players," Pulis said. "Cameron and Kenwyne have not played much this season but their spirit has been very good.

"They could easily have jogged around for themselves but the effort they have put in for the club was there for everyone to see and that's a real plus for their character. They are disappointed when they aren't playing but they lifted the crowd."

Jones went on in the first half because of a facial injury to leading scorer Peter Crouch, who is likely to require dental work after a first-half collision with Fabricio Coloccini.

"Crouchy might have carried on until he saw his teeth in the doctor's hand - then he nearly fainted," Pulis said. "I think the doctor had two of them.

"He might need some work now but I don't think there was any malice."

Despite their slow start to the season, Stoke are now in the top half of the table after taking ten points from their last four matches and remaining undefeated in five home games.

"To have 19 points from 14 games is testament to the players," Pulis said. "The first half was very even and we hit the post again. We have hit the post or bar in three or four recent games without the break of it coming back to one of our players.

"Then Asmir [Begovic] has spilled one and he has been absolutely brilliant, so you wonder whether it's going to be your night.

"The crowd were wonderful in the last 20-25 minutes. Never underestimate what part they play in winning games at the Britannia Stadium. When we got the equaliser, the belief in the crowd grew and makes you go on and try to win it."

Alan Pardew said defeat was hard for his much-improved side to stomach.

"It's pretty galling to look the players in the eye and see them coming away with nothing," he said. "It's a tough result for us to take.

"There were a couple of errors for the goals but it was such an improved performance - not just from the Southampton game but from the Swansea game, too.

"There was a real commitment and a much better balance to the team and if you're going to get a victory, that is the kind of performance which will buoy you to one."

"I thought we were the better side to be honest. It's tough for us but that's where we are. That's the sort of season we're having. We're not really getting any breaks.

"We're very much aware that it's four defeats in a row and we can't really complain about one or two of them. There are a lot of causes for concern, like our injury list and the Europa League. but there's no need to harp on about them.

"We've got a home game next against Wigan and we need to win it."

Pardew revealed that Hatem Ben Arfa will not return for Monday, when the Toon will also be without James Perch after he picked up a fifth yellow card.

The manager gained strength, though, from the response of the visiting supporters to their efforts.

"It was a hard core set of fans on a cold evening and they saw that we gave good value and that's what they want to see," he said. "We didn't do that against Southampton for whatever reason."

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