A FRUSTRATED Remy Cabella threw his water bottle down after leaving the field – and his Newcastle United team-mates went on to throw two points away.
It was a throwaway afternoon at a subdued St James’s Park.
And all bar the Stoke City fans who witnessed yesterday’s 1-1 draw will want to discard the memory.
It was a game to forget, especially for referee Kevin Friend.
Friend didn’t get much right, but he can’t be blamed for Peter Crouch’s late, late equaliser which cancelled out Jack Colback’s 75th-minute strike.
That one’s on Newcastle’s players, who contrived to hand the ball to Stoke so late in the game, which ended 1-1 to leave the club 11th in the Premier League ahead of Wednesday night’s visit to Crystal Palace.
On this evidence, the team will struggle to finish much higher up the table.
And head coach John Carver – who blasted his players for a lack of “professionalism” after the game – has a lot of work to do on the training ground.
Carver, presumably tempted to recall Paul Dummett and Mehdi Abeid, suggested in his programme notes that he would rarely change a winning team.
“I don’t care about reputations or personalities – if you do a job for the team, you will stay in the team,” wrote the 50-year-old.
And Carver was as good as his word, naming an unchanged starting XI from the previous weekend’s 3-0 win over Hull City, the club’s first victory since Alan Pardew’s departure.
However, it’s hard to imagine Carver naming the same team at Selhurst Park after what he saw against Stoke.
The first half was largely forgettable, enlivened only by four flowing moves forward from Newcastle and a late save from goalkeeper Tim Krul, who stopped a diving header from Mame Biram Diouf.
Krul had had little else to do in a stop-start 45 minutes, punctuated by a series of baffling decisions from Friend.
But when United clicked, they clicked.
Again, Moussa Sissoko, Ayoze Perez and Remy Cabella caused problems with the pace and movement.
Visiting goalkeeper Asmir Begovic did well to stop an 11th-minute header from Cabella – who met a right-footed Sissoko cross from the left – with his shoulder.
Cabella couldn’t quite meet a left-wing ball from Massadio Haidara nine minutes later.
And Begovic had to be brave to gather from the feet of Sissoko after the midfielder had played an intelligent one-two with Cabella, who set away Perez late in the half, but the forward’s shot bounced just wide of the left-hand post.
Krul, a spectator for most of the first half, superbly denied Mame Biram Diouf, who had dived to meet a cross from one-time Newcastle loanee Stephen Ireland.
The half ended goalless, though Stoke edged the booking count 3-1, with Glenn Whelan, Victor Moses and Stephen Ireland havinbg joined Sammy Ameobi in Friend’s notebook.
Stoke improved after the interval – United spent the first 15 minutes largely on the back foot, and Colback was shown a yellow card for challenge on Marc Muniesa – and Carver replaced Vurnon Anita with Papiss Demba Cisse in the 65th minute in an attempt to inject some life into his team.
Gabriel Obertan followed Cisse on to the pitch – he replaced Cabella – and the decision was met with muted boos around the stadium.
Cabella angered Carver by tossing away his water bottle after leaving the field.
Ironically, the midfielder has come to the fore under Carver, who felt his actions were “disrespectful” to his team-mates.
As it was, Obertan had a hand in Colback’s goal, a neat strike into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, but Stoke manager Mark Hughes felt the midfielder was fortunate to still be on the pitch.
Hughes had a point, as Colback – who had upended Moses five minutes earlier – himself acknowledged after the match.
As it was, a draw was the right result. Neither team had done enough to deserve all three points.
But that didn’t make Crouch’s late equaliser any easier to take for fans has they headed out of the stadium.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul 7; Janmaat 6, Coloccini 7, Williamson 6, Haidara 6; SISSOKO 7, Anita 5 (Cisse, 65, 6), Colback 7; Cabella 7 (Obertan, 69, 6), Perez 7, Ameobi 6 (Abeid, 86). Subs not used: Woodman, Dummett, Gouffran, Riviere.
STOKE CITY: Begovic; Bardsley, Muniesa, Wollscheid, Wilson (Cameron, 51); Whelan, Nzonzi; Walters, Ireland (Crouch, 82), Moses; Diouf. Subs not used: Butland, Wilkinson, Palacios, Adam, Sidwell.
Man of the match: Moussa Sissoko. At the heart of United’s best moves.
Highlight: There wasn’t much to cheer bar Jack Colback’s sweetly-struck goal.
Lowlight: The moments of madness that cost Newcastle late in the game.
Goals: Colback 75, Crouch 90
Bookings: Moses 15, Ireland 23, Whelan 33, Ameobi 35, Colback 53, Muniesa 89
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicester)