Newcastle manager Steve McClaren remains positive regarding his sides Premier League survival hopes despite suffering a 1-0 defeat to Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.
After an 18-day lay-off, the Magpies were within nine minutes of securing a point that would have lifted them out of the relegation zone, but Stoke forward Xherdan Shaqiri fired in a 25-yard winner to secure the victory for the Potters.
Newcastle striker Seydou Doumbia saw his last-minute effort wonderfully saved by goalkeeper Jack Butland, who wasn’t called into action until that point.
Despite the loss, McClaren remained positive on a performance that was a huge improvement on their previous away match, a 5-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“We didn’t deserve that,” McClaren said. “Jack Butland has become a bit of a curse this season for us. Four magnificent saves at St James’ and one at the end there which denied us a point. That’s the difference at the present moment.
“But, the last 18 days, we talked a lot about what we need to do and I think we started that process tonight in terms of attitude, work-rate and becoming harder to beat. I thought we were very organised, very disciplined.
McClaren added: “We stifled, frustrated Stoke – so much so that I think they had one shot in the second half and it’s a goal. Treacherous conditions and I thought we deserved to fight our way to at least a point.
“I thought there were good individual performances, a good team performance – you could see there was a determination, a work-rate for each other and a spirit there.
“This game’s cruel and it’s been cruel to us again. Dust yourselves down and we go again on Saturday.”