The 147th Tyne-Wear derby ended in stalemate, but Sunderland needed a huge helping hand to rescue a point against a side who played with ten men for three-quarters of the game.
Even though the spoils were shared for me it’s us who have the bragging rights. They failed once again to beat us on their own patch, and I’ll reinforce the fact that we had only ten men for three-quarters of the game whist they had the bulk of decisions from the referee throughout the course of the game.
Yohan Cabaye got Newcastle off to a flyer by scoring from our first real attack on three minutes. Hatem Ben Arfa worked the ball down the right and played inside for Shola Ameobi who saw his cross cleared straight to the feet of Cabaye who swept the ball home from 12 yards in front of the travelling fans, albeit significantly below them thanks to a change in away seating arrangements at the Stadium of Light.
In truth it was the away side who were performing the better of the two. We had control of the first portion of the game, we had the lead and we had the home fans starting to get frustrated with their sides lack of attacking intent, although I was sure they’d be used that by now during Marty’s Party.
But then the ascendency was handed back to the home side through a moment of madness from Cheik Tiote. Fouled by Sunderland’s ginger tosspot, Jack Colback, Tiote then proceeded to go in on Stephen Fletcher with his foot raised and his studs showing. People will argue that the whistle had already gone but for me that just makes it an off the ball incident. Either way it was still dangerous play and I have no complaints with the red as such.
However any ascendency that the home side should have got from such an act wasn’t forthcoming and Newcastle remained pretty comfortable although admittedly our attacking presence was somewhat stifled due to a tactical switch which saw Shola Ameobi replaced with James Perch leaving Demba Ba ploughing a lone line up front. Despite that though, Sunderland rarely threatened and the half drew to a close without too much else to report.
Half-time: Sunderland 0-1 Newcastle
Home fans expecting the alamo after half-time would, in hindsight, be disappointed. Newcastle, with Fabricio Coloccini showing why he is so important to the side, looked comfortable still despite the one man disadvantage. Indeed Tim Krul wasn’t actually required to make a save from a Sunderland shot the whole game which just shows how useless Sunderland were at attacking and how well Newcastle were doing defensively.
The first real chance of the second half didn’t arrive until 74 minutes, but it was the away side who it fell to with Demba Ba unable to make the most of a great through ball by Hatem Ben Arfa. The Senegal hitman cut a lone figure at times, but he must be commended as he kept the Sunderland defence on their toes and always offered an outlet.
Sunderland had thought they’d equalised with eight minutes remaining but the Sunderland fans who had first started cheering soon realised that his effort had hit the OUTSIDE of the net, much to the derision of the away support.
However, moments later, with 85 minutes on the clock, Sunderland got the equaliser they were after, but they needed one of our players to get it for them. Seb Larsson found the head of John O’Shea whose effort was drifting wide of goal only to bounce off Demba Ba leaving Tim Krul wrong-footed and the scores at 1-1.
Sunderland tried to press for a winner but once again their lack of cutting edge in the final third proved costly and after four minuted of additional time the whistle was blown and the latest edition of this fierce rivalry was drawn to a close, with Sunderland fans no doubt feeling like they’d won the FA Cup once more after just about scraping a draw against ten men.
Full-time: Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle
The referee was awful for the entire match. This is the same man who didn’t see anything wrong with Nigel de Jong’s leg-breaking challenge on Hatem Ben Arfa two years ago. As I mentioned earlier, you can bemoan poor officiating for the sending off if you like, but Tiote also needs to shoulder a large portion of the blame. It was well documented prior to kick-off that Atkinson like a red card and Tiote gave him just the excuse he needed.
It was a silly mistake that Tiote just needs to cut out from his game. He can tackle, but when he loses his rag like that he becomes a liability and it ends up no good for us. Still, 95% of the time he is excellent for us and it’s important to remember that.
On the more positive side there were some excellent performances out on that litter-infested pitch today. Fabricio Coloccini was excellent in the heart of defence and even Mike Williamson did well. Davide Santon shut Adam Johnson down to the point where I wondered if he was still on the pitch or not, and Demba Ba, as mentioned earlier, did well with what he was dealt. Did you know that he is now Sunderland’s second highest top-scorer this season?
It was also nice to see that Sunderland fans are as bad with their aim as the attackers representing their team are. I mean if any one of the golf balls they were throwing at Yohan Cabaye, all seen on Sky cameras, connected with him they would have an issue wouldn’t they?
Does that make us unbeaten against them since they proclaimed themselves as “top dogs” following our relegation? I think so…
Howay the lads!
Sunderland: Simon Mignolet, Craig Gardner, Danny Rose, John O’Shea, Carlos Cuellar, Jack Colback, Seb Larsson, Adam Johnson, James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon, Stephen Fletcher
Subs: Kieran Westwood, Phil Bardsley, Frazier Campbell, Matt Kilgallon, David Vaughan, David Meyler, Louis Saha
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Shola Ameobi, Demba Ba
Subs: Steve Harper, Steven Taylor, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obertan, Papiss Cisse