ALAN PARDEW was defeated but not depressed last night after watching Stoke City condemn Newcastle United to a fourth consecutive loss with two late goals at the Britannia Stadium.
The Magpies boss must now try to lift his players before Monday's visit of Wigan Athletic to St James' Park knowing a defeat could leave them in the relegation zone if results over the weekend go against them.
But Pardew, annoyed with a couple of late errors last night, wants his team to focus on the positives in the hope Newcastle can bring a halt to an alarming dip in results.
When striker Papiss Cisse pounced to put Newcastle ahead within 90 seconds of the restart, it looked as if there would be an end to their losing run.
But then Stoke broke Newcastle's resistance to grab two goals inside four minutes through Jon Walters and Cameron Jerome to seal the points for the Potters.
"It's pretty galling to look the players in the eye and see them coming away with nothing. It's a tough result for us to take," said Pardew. "I also thought we should have had a penalty when Ryan Shawcross stopped the ball going back to Cisse.
"There were a couple of errors for the goals but it was such an improved performance - not just from the Southampton game but from the Swansea game too. There was a real commitment and a much better balance to the team and if you're going to get a victory, that is the kind of performance which will buoy you to one."
Newcastle have won just one of their last nine in the Premier League and sit just two points above the bottom three.
With the injury situation far from improving, Pardew knows he is going to have to get the best from the players he has available for the Latics.
But he is keen for Newcastle to show the same sort of determination they showed for the majority of last night's trip to the Britannia.
"I thought we were the better side to be honest. It's tough for us but that's where we are," he said.
"That's the sort of season we're having. We're not really getting any breaks. We're very aware that it's four defeats in a row and we can't really complain about some of them.
"There are a lot of causes for concern - our injury list, the Europa League, but there's no need to harp on about them. We've got a home game against Wigan and we need to win it."
The tough schedule continues. After Monday's visit of Wigan, Magpies travel to Bordeaux for the final Europa League group game on Thursday.
Those games are unlikely to see Hatem Ben Arfa return, while James Perch will also be missing against Wigan after picking up a fifth yellow card last night.