Former Newcastle transfer target Erik Pieters scored a fortunate winner as Stoke City beat a poor Magpies side at the Britannia Stadium. It was reportedly only a knee injury that stopped Pieters from joining the Geordies before he signed for Stoke and the left-back came up with the winner as his attempted cross floated into Tim Krul’s top corner. Newcastle’s latest defeat means their seemingly safe ninth position in the Premier League table is now in jeopardy, with the Potters just three points behind them thanks to Pieters’ goal and with a better goal difference. As they looked for their first win in four games, Alan Pardew decided to experiment with his formation. Three centre-backs were employed by the Toon manager with Steven Taylor recalled to the first-team alongside Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson. Vurnon Anita and Paul Dummett occupied unfamiliar wing-back roles, with Shola Ameobi partnering Papiss Cisse up front. In short, the changes didn’t work. The players selected didn’t seem to suit the system and Newcastle were second best all afternoon. Peter Crouch went closest in the early stages, heading Marko Arnautovic’s cross against the foot of Krul’s post. Austrian winger Arnautovic was in fine form. Rather like Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa – who started on the bench – the former Werder Bremen man can be frustrating but magnificent in the same match. Today was more the latter than the former. He and left flank partner Pieters caused problems for Newcastle all afternoon and it was the Dutchman who broke the deadlock shortly before half-time. There is little doubt that it was a cross from the former PSV Eindhoven defender but the wind took it high above Krul’s reach and into the top corner. Papiss Cisse and Ameobi led the line for Newcastle but were unable to create any real openings. Perhaps Newcastle’s complete lack of creativity was summed up by the fact that Mike Williamson had arguably their best chance, only to be denied by a good Ryan Shawcross block. That lack of creativity has hindered the Geordies massively of late. Without Yohan Cabaye pulling the strings in midfield they have scored just six goals – four of those against Hull City in one game – and just a solitary strike when Loic Remy has been absent through injury. Crouch continued to threaten for the home side at the other end though and could have easily added his name to the score sheet. First he failed to get the correct contact on a cross, before his diving header was saved comfortably by Krul. Krul’s opposite number had a quiet afternoon. Asmir Begovic was rarely troubled as he watched the action in front of him but he was helpless five minutes from time when Anita had a wonderful chance to equaliser. The diminutive Dutchman was on hand at the far post after linking up nicely with Adam Armstrong and Ameobi, but couldn’t reach the veteran striker’s cross to equalise. As time ticked away and Newcastle slipped to another loss, the travelling Toon Army unfurled a banner that read “No more lies or excuses, Pardew out”. It seems like the Newcastle manager’s days are numbered and with performances, tactics and results like this one, it’s hard to argue with the disgruntled Geordie faithful.