Fluke goal - but defeat no accident. Quite a long write up from NUFC.com Saturday saw the Britannia Stadium host Newcastle's latest attempt at posting a performance competent and committed enough to "repay" their fans. And like other recent attempts at atonement, they failed completely. A forgettable encounter was ultimately decided by a wayward cross from one-time toon transfer target Erik Pieters that evaded Tim Krul and went in off a post. The Potters made and missed various other noteworthy chances to record a more resounding margin of victory, but United's all-too-familiar forward failings meant that once again, it was a case of first goal wins. Since beating Stoke 5-1 at SJP on Boxing Day, Alan Pardew's side have failed to score in twelve of their sixteen Premier League games and given their followers just a single strike to celebrate in the last nine hours. And having largely suffered in silence at Fulham and Southampton (at least until full time), a more partisan travelling support finally lost patience with their owner, manager and players as a fourth successive scoreless reverse unfolded in grimly familiar style. Having started the day heartily praising the imminent demotion of their derby foes ("we're gonna have a party, 'cos sunlun's going down"), a good number of the 2,900 away supporters focused their energies on backing the bench-consigned Hatem Ben Arfa. The enigmatic/tubby Frenchman was again unable to claim a berth in the starting XI, Dan Gosling retaining his midfield place alongside Yoan Gouffran and Cheick Tiote. Wearing what used to be our lucky yellow change kit, Massadio Hadiara and Davide Santon dropped out while Steven Taylor made his first start in eight games in a back three with Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson. That left Paul Dummett and Vurnon Anita at wing-back, while Papiss Cisse was joined up front by Shola Ameobi, making a low-key return to his former club (six games on loan here back in 2008....0 goals. Funny that.) It looked odd on paper but even more strange on the pitch with Anita looking totally lost down the right and Gouffran chasing his own shadow in midfield. Didn't he once used to be capable of playing up front? From the first whistle, United looked totally disorganised and lacked any sort of cohesion - something that Pardew perched high in the stands must have seen. With Pieters and Marko Arnautovic doubling up on Anita it seemed only a matter of time before a cross from the left would cause problems and Peter Crouch headed against a post from an Arnautovic centre after nine minutes. United should have scored a couple of minutes later when Shola headed down for Gosling, who somehow contrived to thump his shot over the bar from close range. The criticism of today's match referee Mike Jones that followed his disallowing of Tiote's screamer at home to Manchester City then came into effect on 23 minutes, Cisse clearly fouled in the box but no penalty kick awarded. If that's not payback, then nothing is. City gained the upper hand again and three minutes before the interval, a mis-hit left win cross from Pieters drifted over the head of fellow Dutchman Krul and into the top corner of the net. The goal had been coming and there was no surprise it stemmed from a cross from City's left. The manner of the goal was certainly unfortunate though and in home eyes doubtless payback for the events of December 26th that left them with nine men and their boss in the stand. Attempting an instant reply, Tiote saw one shot easily gathered by Asmir Begovic (the only time the home 'keeper was called into action) before Gosling again found a good position in front of goal, but failed to connect with his header as the ball was powered across the area. Situated adjacent to the players tunnel, Toon fans made their discontent with the poor first half display apparent, accompanying criticism of the manager ("everybody's right, Pardew's ****e") waving bed sheets on which a variety of messages were scrawled: "no more lies or excuses Pardew out", "Pardew is a muppet" and the unequivocal "Pardew Out". At this point the criticism - and support for Ben Arfa - remained mixed and noticeably less audible from one section of the away end, with the older lot seemingly retaining some patience. Again though, the sight of Newcastle followers arguing among themselves was further evidence of this increasingly divisive season. Again resisting the temptation to alter the side at half time, the second period was little different and Crouch missed a couple of headers before Taylor appeared to pull a calf muscle and was replaced by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Williamson then had the chance to break his Newcastle duck, only for Ryan Shawcross to blocked after Cisse's cross to the far post and the ball fell to the defender. With no further prospect of an equaliser, Gosling and Cisse made way for Ben Arfa and Adam Armstrong. But despite our line-up looking even more random, United began to make some inroads into a Stoke side for whom ex-Magpie flop Stephen Ireland had gone off after completing an hour of half-paced posturing - but was still superior to our lot. Ben Arfa almost instantly suffered a dead leg and looked intent on departing before a touchline conflab resulted in his magically recovering - the lack of any Newcastle substitutes warming up from that point significant. Anita had the chance to head in at the far post but the smallest player on the field couldn't direct his header downward and the ball cleared the bar. Williamson stayed forward and had another shot blocked and Yanga-Mbiwa sliced horribly wide as our final efforts to salvage a point came and went and four minutes of added time ebbed away in typical aimless fashion. By then though a more concerted and united away support had turned their fire on the manager, "Pardew Out" shouts increasing in volume and boos and catcalls greeting the away bench occupants and players as they retreated to the sanctuary of the dressing room. Pardew sought later to blame the local media for inciting those supporters into that negative response, a situation that whether true or not is of course entirely due to the club banning said titles. That gives them free rein to slag them off, rather than throw a lifebelt to the beleaguered manager in the form of supportive press coverage.