Peter Crouch heaped further misery on Alan Pardew as his header gave Stoke City a 1-0 Premier League win over Newcastle United on Monday.
The lead-up to the Britannia Stadium clash had been dominated by controversy over comments from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley indicating that Pardew would be sacked if they lost to Stoke.
A legal representative for Ashley later insisted that the remarks were made in jest, however, he now has a decision to make after watching another lifeless performance which leaves Newcastle still awaiting their first league victory of the season.
Newcastle enjoyed plenty of possession in wet Staffordshire conditions but their failure to create clear-cut chances was punished by Crouch.
The 33-year-old striker hit home his second goal in as many league games, converting a Victor Moses delivery to seal victory and spark further calls for Pardew to be removed from his post.
Jack Colback somehow crashed an effort against the crossbar as the minutes ticked away, leaving Pardew sweating once again over his future on Tyneside.
Marc Muniesa was retained after scoring twice against Sunderland in the League Cup in Stoke's only alteration from last week's QPR draw, but a Newcastle side unchanged from their last-gasp draw with Hull City had the first real chance in the 14th minute as Emmanuel Riviere lashed over following good work from Remy Cabella.
However, Crouch put Stoke ahead a minute later, rising above Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini to head home Moses' left-wing cross.
Newcastle responded well to going behind but were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Yoan Gouffran bundled Moses over in the area, referee Craig Pawson unmoved despite the apparent foul.
There was more misfortune for the hosts as striker Mame Biram Diouf pulled his hamstring in setting up the opening and was replaced by Marko Arnautovic.
Stoke continued to have success hitting Newcastle on the counter, Mike Williamson impressively heading Muniesa's dangerous cross away with Steven N'Zonzi ready to pounce from point-blank range.
Despite creating the better opportunities Stoke were grateful to goalkeeper Asmir Begovic for keeping them ahead two minutes before the break as he turned Daryl Janmaat's low drive round his right-hand post.
Papiss Cisse - Newcastle's saviour versus Hull - was brought on by Pardew at half-time but it was Stoke that went closest to scoring after the break, Arnautovic clattering a half-volley against the woodwork.
Mark Hughes' side continued to dictate play in the second period, Moses denied only by the reflexes of Krul after the on-loan Chelsea forward had capitalised on confusion in the Newcastle defence.
With Newcastle seemingly heading for a meek surrender in the closing stages, their fans made their discontent evident with further chants directed at Pardew, who then saw his side's last chance at salvation go begging as Colback hit the bar from four yards after Gabriel Obertan's cross.comments