Stoke City: Potters not at the races, says Whelan
GLENN Whelan admitted Stoke's usual battling spirit deserted them in the first half at Newcastle when they looked like they'd given up the ghost.
Stoke never looked like getting a result in the North East once Yohan Cabaye headed Toon into a 14th-minute lead.
Papiss Cisse added a second, four minutes later after his clever run was picked out by Cabaye's superb pass.
Whelan said the double whammy had left Stoke reeling.
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He said: "We were okay for the first 10 minutes, but then they scored the goal and heads dropped.
"They looked like they were going to win the game easily and that's disappointing because that's not like us."
Perhaps it could have been different had Jon Walters scored from close range before Newcastle's opener, but there was no doubt the home side deserved their victory as they outclassed Stoke to move up to fourth in the table.
Whelan added: "We wanted to get off to a good start and keep their fans quiet. Jon had a chance, but it's just not going for him at the minute.
"He's done ever so well for the team, but we just need something to drop for him. It was unfortunate because, had that gone in, it would have been a different game. But it's all ifs and buts now.
"I thought we were comfortable until they scored the opener. They got a little bit of luck because the ball came back off the bar and fell to their player rather than one of ours.
"That's just the luck Newcastle are getting at the minute, although you have to give them the greatest respect because they are doing very well and are up there for a reason."
Whelan says Stoke felt they were still in the game when they came out for the second half, although Newcastle struck another blow on 57 minutes with Cabaye's curler into the far corner from 20 yards.
Whelan said that realistically put the game beyond Stoke's reach.
He added: "The second half was much better and we gave it a right go, but again something dropped for their boy and it sneaked in the bottom corner. At 3-0, the game was virtually over.
"It is soul destroying because at half-time we knew the next goal would be crucial. Had we got it, we were back in the game."
Stoke's poor performance shouldn't detract from an excellent display from Newcastle who won their sixth game in a row to move into the final Champions League spot.
Whelan said: "They are there for a reason, but I think they are getting a bit of luck as well. Take nothing away from them though, they deserved their win.
"They look a top side and one that can make the Champions League."
Stoke's ambitions of finishing in the top ten were dented by a defeat which leaves them with one win in their last eight games.
However, Whelan believes the 14th-placed Potters can still finish in the top half, particularly as they still have home matches against Arsenal, Everton and Bolton, and only QPR to face away.
He said: "We knew this would be a tough game because of the way Newcastle have been playing. But we have three games at home where we feel more comfortable.
"But we have to lift ourselves. We have four games left where we have to get something to finish off a good season and not let it just fade away."