Stoke striker Peter Crouch came off the bench to snatch a draw at Newcastle with a dramatic late equaliser.
The Magpies looked to have won an instantly forgettable game when Jack Colback fired them into a 74th-minute lead.
However Crouch headed fellow substitute Geoff Cameron’s 90th-minute cross over keeper Tim Krul to claim a 1-1 draw on Tyneside and deny head coach John Carver back-to-back Barclays Premier League victories and leave Newcastle still awaiting as first home win of 2015.
Colback might not have been on the pitch to put the Magpies ahead had referee Kevin Friend issued a second caution for a 71st-minute foul on Victor Moses.
The goal briefly raised the spirits of a crowd of just 47,763 – the lowest at St James’ Park this season – but there were boos on the final whistle with Carver’s men having passed up an opportunity to climb into the top 10.
Newcastle ran out knowing a second successive victory would see them leapfrog Stoke with two points separating them in the table before kick-off, and there was little to choose between the sides during a tight opening 45 minutes.
The visitors, who employed Moses and Mame Biram Diouf as wide men in support of striker Jonathan Walters, enjoyed the greater share of possession before the break without creating clear-cut chances until deep into injury-time at the end of the half.
But the Magpies made more of their time on the ball as they attacked largely on the break through the pace of Ayoze Perez and the skill of Remy Cabella and Sammy Ameobi.
Walters fired across the face of goal after turning Mike Williamson with eight minutes gone, but it took a fine reaction save from Asmir Begovic to deny Cabella at the other end three minutes later.
Ameobi slid the ball out to Moussa Sissoko wide on the left and when he crossed to the near post, Cabella glanced a header towards goal, only to see Begovic throw out a hand to turn it past the post.
The Bosnian was quick off his line to prevent Sissoko from reaching Cabella’s 27th-minute return pass, but he was more comfortable in collecting Ameobi’s well-struck shot on the turn seconds later.
However, he was mightily relieved to see Perez’s shot fly inches past the far post two minutes before the break after he had been played in behind defender Marc Muniesa by Cabella.
For all their possession, Stoke, who had Moses, Stephen Ireland and Glenn Whelan booked before the break, did not force Krul into a save of note until the second minute of stoppage time, although it was a good one when it finally arrived as the Dutchman palmed away Diouf’s point-blank header after good play by Steven Nzonzi and Ireland.
The second half started in scrappy fashion with neither side able to exercise any real control, although the Magpies almost worked their way in with 53 minutes gone when Perez and Cabella combined only for the final ball to let them down.
If anything, a game of little genuine quality deteriorated further as the half wore on with neither side able to summon up the inspiration to turn it in their favour.
Carver made his move with 25 minutes remaining when he replaced defensive midfielder Vurnon Anita with striker Papiss Cisse.
Gabriel Obertan replaced Cabella as the game limped towards its conclusion and saw Cisse head his 73rd-minute cross well wide of the target, but redemption was close at hand.
The former Manchester United winger’s cross seconds later was laid off by Sissoko to Colback, who had been booked for a foul on Marc Muniesa before catching Moses late, and he fired home first time off the inside of the post to snatch victory.
Krul made smart saves from Phil Bardsley and Walters to preserve his clean sheet, but Obertan and Perez both passed up glorious opportunities to cement the win in a frenetic conclusion, and they were made to pay when Crouch rose at the far post to loop a header home despite the best efforts of Fabricio Coloccini on the line.