The good news is that Newcastle avoided getting beaten by Sunderland twice in the league this season for the first time in 40 years, and the bad news is that Newcastle were the better side in the second half, and equalized when Shola Ameobi expertly shot home a penalty for his 50th Newcastle goal, and the local lad showed he had the heart to stand up and be counted right there.
But Sunderland were the better side in the first half and Newcastle had an amazing escape after 20 minutes when a Kieran Richardson curling free kick hit the far post, and rebounded to Cisse who put the ball in the net, or thought he had but Kevin Nolan somehow cleared the ball off the line. An amazing clearance by our new boy, whop seemed to cover miles and miles this afternoon.
Then after 22 minutes Andy Carroll, who had an outstanding game for the Magpies, hit the cross bar with a looping header. This lad looks better with every game, and on this form he’s a starter next season, probably alongside Oba Martins.
But in the first half Sunderland were the better side and may have even been more than one goal ahead at the break, with a little more luck.
But Newcastle came storming back in the second half, because they knew that a defeat wo0uld be the worst possible result, and they picked it up a notch.
Newcastle were starting to play a lot better wth Bassong,. Taylor and Carroll outstanding, and it was Taylor on 68 minutes who made another surging run on the right hand side (isn’t right-back this lad’s best position?), and he was knocked off the ball by Malbranque, and the referee gave a penalty.
It looked rather soft and Sunderland fans will say it was a simple shoulder charge against Taylor, but Steven looked for the penalty and got it. We’ll take it, thank you very much.
Shola Ameobi stepped up, and there was more than a little trepidation in the Newcastle crowd, but the 6’2″ striker hit an unstoppable shot high into the net for his 50th Newcastle goal and the crowd went wild.
It was asking a lot for Shola to come into this game, and he looked well off the pace, but nobody can doubt his courage, effort and tenacity in this game, when he was hardly match fit. And Newcastle seemed to score a second goal when Carroll had the ball in the net but Ameobi had adjudged to have handled the ball.
Then on 73 minutes as Newcastle were surging forward for the winner, Kenwyne Jones had a great chance to put Sunderland ahead, but Harper made a wonderful stop and then Nolan fouled Malbranque just outside the penalty area.
Newcastle fans’ hearts were beating loud as that man Richardson took the fee kick, but he ballooned it over the bar to great cheers from the home fans.
Then on 78 minutes a good cross by Duff from the right gave Steven Taylor a free header at the far post, and he headed it forcefully towards goal, but it was blocked by Sunderland players. Carroll headed the ball back across goal and Nolan ended up shooting wide from a narrow angle.
This was now a pulsating game with both sides looking for the winner, with Newcastle a bit more on top and pressing forward.
But they were also leaving themselves open at the back, and then Duff put in another great right wing cross that found Ameobi free on the far post, but he failed to control the ball when it seemed he just had to tap the ball home. Those are chances Owen puts home, and makes them look easy, but they’re not always as easy as they look.
With 7 minutes to go Joe made a good change in bringing on the speedy Lovenkrands for his home debut, with the Sunderland defenders tiring, and brought off Carroll, who looked the best Newcastle player today, and the lad got a great reception from the crowd. Andy earned his wages today.
Surely this lad will soon get an England Under-21 call-up soon, if he continues with this great form, and he’s such a handful for the opposing defense.
Basssong was great at the back today – what a player this lad is – and he’s as hard as nails as Jones found out late in the game,. Jones was surging through when Seb blocked him with a strong tackle, and kept upright as Jones smashed into a brick wall – which was Bassong.
Jones had to have lengthy treatment before continuing, but Bassong is like a man mountain at the back for Newcastle these days. What a buy! Where are the French selectors?
Then on 86 minutes Sunderland should really have scored when Butt tried to head the ball back and Chopra intercepted the ball from Coloccini, and was clean through in the inside left position.
But instead of shooting he pulled the ball back for Jones, who was wide open, but his pass was wayward and somehow Newcastle saved the day, when it should have been a certain goal for the Black Cats.
The fact the lad was born and bred in Gosforth will no doubt be discussed by Sunderland supporters tonight in the pub. 😀
Newcastle went for the winner but then right after a full 5 minutes of injury time, Reid hit a crisp volley that whistled just a couple of inches wide of Harpers left hand post.
The whistle went to end a pulsating derby game, and it was probably a fair result, but with a little luck Newcastle could have taken all 3 points.
We still look too vulnerable in defense, but Nolan made a difference, and Ryan Taylor will be a very good addition to the squad, but we still need 3 more players in during the next 25 hours.
You cannot fault the lads this afternoon, because they gave it all they had, especially in the second half, and Ashley and Llambias looked like any other fans, as they went crazy after Shola scored with what was a terrific penalty.
If we show this spirit, and get in another few players we still have a chance to survive, but we cannot afford a loss in our next game away at West Brom next Saturday.
Newcastle United: Steve Harper, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Sebastien Bassong, Steven Taylor, Nicky Butt (c), Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Damien Duff, Andy Carroll, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Xisco, Geremi, Peter Lovenkrands, David Edgar, Kazenga LuaLua, Tim Krul, Ryan Donaldson
Sunderland: Marton Fulop, Phil Bardsley, George McCartney, Dean Whitehead (c), Carlos Edwards, Steed Malbranque, Djibril Cisse, Kieran Richardson, Danny Collins, Kenwyne Jones, Anton Ferdinand
Subs: Daryl Murphy, Michael Chopra, Grant Leadbitter, Dwight Yorke, Andy Reid, David Healy, Nick Colgan
Referee: Howard Webb