ONSIDE: Newcastle United pass dress rehearsal for Euro night out

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PUB philosophers usually go into overdrive when they see a thin girl walk in with a, erm, slightly larger lady.

Ignoring the possibility that the pair might just be good friends, the theory goes that the relationship conveniently works two-fold.

The slimmer gal apparently benefits because she feels better about herself and doesn’t have to worry about competition for her next loaded conquest.

The beefier mate is also supposedly quids in as she bags cast-offs from the prettier pal who would normally be out of her league.

And so we come to Stoke City.

Opposition fans battered by the Potters’ long-ball game have foolishly consoled themselves for years with the notion that “at least we tried to play football the proper way”.

“The proper way”. And where does that often get many a so-called better side?

Usually out of Stoke’s league and back in the Championship.

The best way to play Tony Pullis’s giants is to both match them at their own game while sticking to your own principles where possible.

Newcastle, far from the most fluent side in the Premier League, did just that to grind out a worthy 2-1 Sunday win with a dreary match’s only two moments of class.

Yohan Cabaye’s free-kick equaliser and Sylvain Marveaux’s delicate through ball for Papiss Cisse’s winner were deserving of a greater stage.

How about a Europa League quarter final?

While I would not agree with manager Alan Pardew’s assertion that Newcastle are virtually safe from relegation, the nine-point gap to the bottom three at least allows him sufficient breathing space to play his best team in Thursday’s round of 16 decider at home to Anzhi Makhachkala.

The Russians are likely to attack far more than they did during last Thursday’s cautious 0-0 first leg and an intriguing night lies ahead before we learn whether Pardew’s remodelled side are deserving of knocking about with more exalted European company.

Fingers crossed we hear no fat ladies singing.

– GAVIN LEDWITH

@GLedwithHMail