Kevin Nolan is determined to make big-spending Manchester City pay for Newcastle’s bout of homesickness.
The Magpies slipped to their second successive defeat at St James’ Park yesterday when Stoke came from behind to win 2-1.
Defeat was all the more frustrating for Chris Hughton’s side as it came a fortnight after they went down 2-0 in the own backyard to Blackpool, but after excellent away wins at Everton and Chelsea.
They head for Eastlands next weekend for another tough test on the road, and skipper Nolan is looking for another positive result to redress the balance once again.
He said: “That’s the main thing now. Manchester City is the next game and we want to win that game.
Well, we hope that’s going to happen.
“We are going to do our best and we are going to work as hard as we can to make sure we keep going in the right direction.
“There were a lot of positives to take out of the game, but we have got to make sure we eradicate the massive negatives – don’t get me wrong, when I say massive, they are only massive because they are goals.
“They are little mistakes, but little mistakes in this league are massive, so we have got to make sure we get them right. If we get them right, we won’t be far off.”
Newcastle looked to be cruising when they went in at the break leading 1-0 with Stoke having turned in an insipid first 45 minutes.
Nolan’s 43rd-minute penalty, awarded after Robert Huth had barged Andy Carroll to the ground, was scant reward for their early dominance, but few inside St James’ doubted they would go on to claim all three points.
However, the warning signs were there during the opening minutes of the second half with Potters boss Tony Pulis sending on first Ricardo Fuller, who lasted only 17 minutes before being helped off with a suspected dislocated shoulder, and long-throw specialist Rory Delap to signal the start of a bombardment.
Striker Kenwyne Jones, who had been anonymous before the break, suddenly started to make his presence felt, although the home side failed to heed the warnings.
The former Sunderland frontman had already hit both the post and crossbar with headers when he finally found his range.
Matthew Etherington was handed an opportunity to play a 67th-minute free-kick into the box after Jose Enrique was penalised for the innocuous challenge which resulted in Fuller’s injury, and when Huth headed it back across goal, Jones turned it into the net from point-blank range.
The Magpies huffed and puffed in the search for an equaliser as Stoke hurled missile after missile into their penalty area, and the ploy paid dividends once again with five minutes remaining.
James Perch managed to get in front of Huth as he attempted to meet Etherington’s corner, but only succeeded in powering a header into his own net.
Nolan passed up a glorious opportunity to level deep into stoppage time after substitute Jonas Gutierrez had done well down the left, but it was a case of too little, too late.
The captain said: “They didn’t really pose any threat except from set-pieces, but we didn’t defend them and that’s what cost us.
“We have got to learn from that and make sure we eradicate that from our game because there are going to be a lot of teams this year who are going to come and throw a lot of set-pieces and throw-ins at us, and we have got to be prepared for it.
“We were prepared, but we didn’t deal with it, and that’s what cost us.
“Obviously, there are individuals who will be very upset with certain aspects, but we win together, we lose together, we draw together and we are all going in one direction together, and hopefully that’s the right way.”
Pulis was delighted with the way his players responded to his half-time promptings, but was keeping his fingers crossed as he awaited news of Fuller’s injury.
He said: “The difference we have got this year to the previous two years is we have actually got game-changers on the bench, and I don’t think there is a better one in the league than Ricardo.
“Ricardo loves it when there is space. In the last 40 minutes of games, we have brought him on a couple of times now and he has been absolutely brilliant.”