A tight affair on Tyneside appeared to have turned in favour of the hosts when Jack Colback struck in the 74th minute, just three minutes after he avoided a second bookable offence for a late challenge on Victor Moses, but Crouch’s header at the death salvaged a point for the visitors.
Chances were few and far between in the first half as both sides struggled to create clear chances in front of goal, but efforts from Remy Cabella, Moussa Sissoko and Mame Biram Diouf could have broken the deadlock had each side’s goalkeeper not been up to the task.
Stoke felt aggrieved Colback had been allowed to continue following his challenge on Moses, but Crouch ensured the trip back to the Potteries would be a good one after Ayoze Perez and Gabriel Obertan spurned glorious opportunities late on to secure the three points for Newcastle.
Newcastle miss the chance to leapfrog their opponents in the table as both sides remain 10th and 11th respectively.
With Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross and the influential Bojan missing through injury, Newcastle’s unchanged side had the better chances in an uneventful first half.
The first opportunity fell to the hosts after 10 minutes as Sissoko found compatriot Cabella in the area but despite evading Marc Wilson, the Frenchman’s glancing header drew a fine reflex save from Asmir Begovic.
Having initiated a counter-attack from his own half Sissoko found Cabella midway through the half, but the latter’s return pass was over-hit and allowed Begovic to smother the chance.
Begovic was helpless towards the end of the half as Cabella lost Wilson and laid the ball into the path of Perez, who fashioned a yard and shot inches wide of the target.
Stoke’s first clear-cut chance came on the brink of half-time. Steven Ireland was played onside by Vurnon Anita and his cross found Diouf who headed on target but not past Tim Krul, who produced his first save of the game.
Colback, who picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Marc Muniesa at the start of the second half, could count himself fortunate to have not received a second yellow for a scathing challenge on Moses.
Within minutes he had made the most of his reprieve, rounding off a well-worked Newcastle attack by slicing a left-footed effort through the legs of Philipp Wollschied and in off the post.
Ireland thought he had levelled the game, but his effort was ruled offside moments before he was replaced by Crouch.
Obertan was hesitant as he wasted a great chance to extend his side’s lead and Perez’s over-exuberance to hit a thunderous strike saw his effort miss the target.
These misses proved costly as Crouch rose to meet fellow substitute Geoff Cameron’s cross to level it at the death, prompting home boos from a crowd of just 47,763 – the lowest at St James’ this season.
Newcastle: Krul (7), Janmaat (7), Williamson (6), Coloccini (6), Haidara (6), Anita (6), Colback (7), Cabella (7), Sissoko (8) Ameobi (6), Perez (7).
Used subs: Cisse (5), Obertan (5), Abeid (5).
Stoke: Begovic (7), Bardsley (7), Wollscheid (8) Muniesa (6), Wilson (6), N’Zonzi (7), Whelan (6), Diouf (7), Ireland (7), Moses (6), Walters (7).
Used subs: Cameron (76), Crouch (7).
Man of the Match: Philipp Wollscheid.
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