Sunderland 1 Newcastle 1: Lessons learned as Black Cats snatch a point
Sunderland 1 Newcastle 1: What lessons did we learn as 10-man Magpies are eventually pegged back in the Tyne-Wear derby?
Pardew has done an amazing job
Alan Pardew is not everyone’s cup of tea. His somewhat over-fiery attitude and occasional pushes on unsuspecting linesmen have left him toiling in the popularity stakes, but few get more out of their team than Pardew. He boldly took off Shola Ameobi with only 37 minutes played after Cheik Tiote’s red card, replacing the already-cautioned striker with James Perch – a versatile defender. The Toon have gone from being an average side with overly ambitious fans, to a top-six outfit who are matching the high expectations of the Geordie faithful. His side were not at their best on Sunday but grinded out a decent result at a very tough venue under difficult circumstances, and had it not been for Fabio Coloccini’s injury they would probably have held on to all three points after Yohan Cabaye gave them an early lead.
Superb refereeing performance
Referees get so much stick in modern football but Martin Atkinson was exemplary at the Stadium of Light on Sunday. He rightly dismissed Tiote midway through the first half as well as regularly giving advantage when he could. He controlled what is always a fiery Tyne-Weir derby very well and deserves credit for delivering an excellent performance. The home fans were raucous and tried to influence his decision-making, especially when Perch went in hard on James McClean – but he refused to give in to any pressure throughout the match. Atkinson’s only errors came when he awarded a couple of corners which should have been goal kicks – but no-one is perfect.
Play two up top, Martin!
For Premier League club, unless you are playing one of the two Manchester outfits or Chelsea, you really should go out to win the match. Martin O’Neill set his side out with just one striker up front – and even after Tiote was dismissed, he waited 40 minutes to bring on Louis Saha. His side have just one goal goal-scorer in their ranks, so with Newcastle keeping Steven Fletcher quiet, it appeared unlikely the Magpies would concede. In the end, Sunderland’s fortuitous late equaliser was a Demba Ba own goal.
Coloccini struggled massively in his first season for Newcastle, but you would now be hard pushed to name a better central defender in the Premier League. He was majestic at the back on Sunday and only a silly booking tarnished what was an exemplary performance. His two successive tackles on Adam Johnson and McClean during the second half summed up his day. Keeping Fletcher quiet for 90 minutes is something very few defences have and will manage this season, but the Argentine did just that throughout the 80 minutes he played, barely allowing the ex-Wolves man a sniff at goal. Then as soon as he was taken off through injury, the visitors started to look shaky and eventually conceded the equaliser.