NEWCASTLE United’s bid for a top-six finish in the Premier League suffered a blow at St James’s Park yesterday.
Relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers took advantage of a frail defence and some sloppy passing to come back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Alan Pardew’s side.
Papiss Demba Cisse gave Newcastle the perfect start with an instinctive finish six minutes into the game.
Cisse’s strike partner, Demba Ba, had a cheeky backheel saved by goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and the ball was played back into the box by Cheik Tiote for Cisse, who netted with a right-foot shot.
And United looked to have taken control of the game in the 18th minute thanks to a stunning strike from Jonas Gutierrez, who beat Hennessey with a fierce drive, the goal his third in as many games against Wolves.
However, Newcastle’s performance unravelled from that moment on.
Kevin Doyle – who would prove instrumental to the visitors’ comeback – put a header narrowly wide as the half-hour mark approached and Pardew’s players were fortunate to take a 2-0 lead into the interval.
United were wasteful in possession and Terry Connor’s team got their reward in the 50th minute.
Doyle played the ball out to Matt Jarvis on the left wing and after he evaded a challenge from Ryan Taylor, he struck a shot which took a deflection off Danny Simpson on its way past Krul.
Pardew, unhappy that Wolves were not being pressed in possession, sent on Danny Guthrie and Hatem Ben Arfa in the 65th minute.
A minute later, Mike Williamson failed to deal with a set-piece into the box and Doyle was there to scramble the ball home from close range.
Ben Arfa went close three minutes from time with a low curled effort, but Pardew admitted after the game his team had not done nearly enough to deserve all three points.
“When you’re 2-0 up at Newcastle and you’re the home team, you’ve got to win, it’s as simple as that,” conceded Pardew.
“We spoke about it at half-time, that the game wasn’t over, because Wolves had fair control of the first half although we got two goals.
“We never got to grips in that first 20 minutes. Having said that, they were two poor goals we conceded and we should have done a lot better.”
However, Newcastle remain in sixth place ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby a week today, though Liverpool, three points behind them in the table, have a game in hand.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon: R Taylor (Guthrie, 65), Cabaye, Tiote (Shola Ameobi, 80), Gutierrez: Cisse (Ben Arfa, 65), Ba. Subs not used: Elliot, Ferguson, Perch, Obertan.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: Hennessey; Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Ward; Foley (Milijas, 90), Edwards, O’Hara (Kightly, 70), Henry, Jarvis (Hunt, 85); Doyle. Subs not used: De Vries, Craddock, Johnson, Ebanks-Blake.
Goals: Cisse 6, Gutierrez 18, Jarvis 50, Doyle 66
Bookings: Shola Ameobi 89, Berra 90
Referee: Peter Walton (Merseyside)
Attendance: 52,287 (1,550 Wolves)
Read Miles Starforth’s full match report, plus more reaction and photos, in tomorrow’s Gazette.