SUNDERLAND 1 NEWCASTLE UNITED 4
SUNDERLAND: Davis, Hoyte, Caldwell, Danny Collins, McCartney, Lawrence, Whitehead, Miller, Daryl Murphy (Arca 64), Stead (Kyle 68), Brown.
Subs Not Used: Joe Murphy, Breen, Leadbitter.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Carr, Bramble, Moore, Babayaro, Solano, Faye, Clark (Chopra 59), N’Zogbia (Boumsong 88), Dyer, Shearer (Luque 71).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Ramage.
Sunderland are a sorry sight these days, and having been relegated on Friday, it was more a case of kicking a man when he’s down rather than putting the final nail in the coffin, as we all had hoped. And the chants of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ rang around the Stadium of Light but there weren’t that many Mackems left to hear it by the time Albert Luque added the fourth.
But to be honest, it was an outcome which looked unlikely at half-time as the Toon players trudged off the pitch trailing to Justin Hoyte’s 32nd-minute strike having been completely out-played and out-fought by Kevin Ball’s men. The battle of the caretaker managers, and Roeder had some work to do to put some fighting spirit in his team, because that first half was a joke. Players without the bottle to put a foot in … adding an extra step in the challenge for 50/50 balls … nobody wanting the ball.
The game represented Sunderland’s last chance to salvage any pride from a disastrous season, and their task could not be under-estimated: they had not won a home derby in 10 attempts stretching back 26 years, and with the Magpies having won their last three league games on the trot to rekindle hopes of European qualification, they knew a first league win on their own ground would take a major performance.
Ball’s players excelled themselves before the break and were ‘up for it’, while Newcastle’s foreigners were lost in the intimidating atmosphere are were woefully short of their best.
The Black Cats dominated the opening 45 minutes with Liam Lawrence, Dean Whitehead, Tommy Miller and Daryl Murphy holding sway in midfield as former Sunderland man Lee Clark and Amady Faye struggled to stem the tide.
Alan Shearer and Kieron Dyer saw too little of the ball to do anything about it, and although Titus Bramble and Craig Moore initially did well to keep the home side at bay, the Magpies were found wanting when it mattered most after 32 minutes.
Jon Stead eased his way past Bramble wide on the left to cross for Whitehead at the near post, and when he turned the ball across goal, Hoyte slammed home from close range.
Apparently Roeder read the riot act at half-time, telling a few players a few ‘home truths’. Tea cups were not thrown, but only because Shearer kept them out of the manager’s way. Insults were hurled instead, and the Toon boss made it perfectly plain that a waiting crowd in black and white wanted more from them!
They went out for the second half in a more positive fashion, Stephen Carr and Charles N’Zogbia both getting into good positions to cross within the opening three minutes of the half, although neither was able to find a team-mate.
The game turned on its head within seven incident-packed minutes when Chopra equalised from close range after the home defence made a mess of clearing Bramble’s long ball. The goalkeeper was fooled by the kid’s refusal to give up a lost cause and United were level.
Two minutes later, the Sunderland defence still rattled, Charles N’Zogbia was hauled back by Hoyte inside the box and referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot. Shearer, having converted penalties against both Tottenham and Wigan in the last fortnight, blasted his effort beyond Davis’ dive to claim his first (and last) ever goal for the club at the Stadium of Light.
The Mackems were stunned into silenced, and their players fell to the floor in disbelief at the turnaround. But their misery increased with 66 minutes gone when N’Zogbia worked his way into the box and slid a left-foot shot past Davis and inside the far post. A marvelous goal made out of nothing, easily the pick of the bunch.
Shearer’s afternoon ended prematurely with 19 minutes remaining when he was heavily tackled and fell to the ground in a heep. The GOALden Boy limped off to be replaced by Albert Luque, and the Spaniard scored number four as he broke through to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
His celebration was a ‘thank you’ to the Toon fans, as he prayed to the heavens for, at last, getting his name on the scoresheet.
A memorable day, and a new four-finger salute to the Mackems, to get rid of the 2-1 taunts they have been pushing in our faces for years.
The SMB’s are dead and buried, and I get the feeling it will be a long time before we ‘meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day’.
Sunderland 1 Newcastle Utd 4
SUNDERLAND 1 NEWCASTLE UNITED 4