Stoke City were indebted to Jack Butland for their battling 0-0 Premier League draw with Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday.
The England international goalkeeper pulled off a string of superb saves to keep the scores level while at the other end Jonathan Walters missed the best chance of the game, failing to turn in a fine Charlie Adam cross.
Newcastle are now unbeaten in five at home against Stoke, but are without a win in their last four Premier League clashes with the Potters.
Mark Hughes welcomed back his captain Ryan Shawcross, who made his first Premier League appearance of the season after a persistent back problem.
Aleksandar Mitrovic came closest for the home side when he hit the post with a glancing header but the result does little for Steve McClaren’s men, who remain rooted in the bottom three.
Newcastle were looking for a reaction to last weekend’s 3-0 derby defeat to Sunderland and they started well with Ayoze Perez and Mitrovic linking up, but the Serb’s shot was saved.
Stoke had a shout for a penalty in the fifth minute when Paul Dummett clipped Bojan Krkic’s heels, but referee Roger East was not interested and replays showed the contact to have taken place outside the box.
The visitors were seeking a third straight away Premier League win and should have taken the lead after 15 minutes. Adam’s superb cross evaded Chancel Mbemba, but Walters was unable to get a telling touch when it looked easier to score.
Mitrovic was at the heart of Newcastle’s best play and Butland was lucky to see the striker’s header from Moussa Sissoko’s cross bounce back off the post.
Perez went close two minutes into the second half but his shot from 20 yards curled just wide.
Georginio Wijnaldum – scorer of four goals for Newcastle in their last home game against Norwich City – then brought a smart save out of Butland with a free-kick.
Stoke were threatening on the break and Rob Elliot was soon called into action for the first time, saving superbly from a Walters header after a fine Marko Arnautovic cross. Walters thumped the rebound wildly over.
Butland, the hero in Stoke’s League Cup penalty-shootout win against Chelsea in midweek, was keeping his team in the game and he made an outstanding save to deny Sissoko after the France midfielder had been played in by Wijnaldum. From the resulting corner, Mbemba thudded a header narrowly wide.
In the 58th minute Butland was called upon once again, parrying a 20-yard drive from Perez around the post as Newcastle started to dominate.
Butland was by far the game’s outstanding player and he showed razor sharp reflexes to tip over a drive by Sissoko with seven minutes to go, before palming over substitute Jamaal Lascelles’ header as both sides had to settle for a point.
Key Opta stats:
– Steve McClaren has won just one of his last 15 Premier League games (D6 L8).
– Newcastle have had 36 shots in their last two Premier League games, but have failed to score in either. Against Norwich, they netted six times from 11 shots (inc blocked shots).
– The Magpies ended a run of seven PL games without a clean sheet.
– Jack Butland made six saves in a Premier League game for the third time this season (6 v Norwich, 10 v Arsenal); he’s made the most saves this campaign overall (46).
– Newcastle have failed to score in six of their last 10 Premier League games.
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