Sunderland vs Newcastle
After the Halloween drubbing that occurred last year this was the game that mattered to all those involved with Sunderland wanted to win, redemption.
5-1 will forever haunt Black Cat fans, bragging rights, constant mocking, this game had to go well for Steve Bruce`s side, hype plus nerves could be sensed across Wearside.
efore the game fans were confident that a win would be on the cards, Steve Bruce said he knew the game plan, team and competitive edge to claim a vital three points and begin the healing process of what happened last year.
Before the kick off a magpie was spotted on the pitch, an omen? A sign of things to come? If only Samson knew.
The game kicked off with immediate pace, and it would be Newcastle to fire the warning signs when Shola Ameobi`s third minute strike narrowly skipped past the left hand post after an audacious yet brilliant 40-yard pass from Joey Barton.
Minutes later Sunderland had a glorious chance to take the lead when he put clear through by Steed Malbranque but Darren Bent squared his shot right into Steve Harper`s legs.
Back came Newcastle, Fabricio Coloccini`s volley looked destined to hit the back of the net but derby day hero Kieran Richardson was at the right place at the right time and blocked the shot off the line.
Malbranque came forward again but this time he had a shot and it forced Harper to pull off a clever low save.
Tempers flared however and a scuffle between Alan Smith and Phil Bardsley boiled over as both teams came together but the intervention of Howard Webb cooled off any more violence.
Smith would later limp off after coming together with Richardson and Danny Guthrie would be his replacement.
In the second half, both sides came out fighting more and the quality of the game began to improve with Sunderland having a quality chance to opening things up with Bent`s clipped shot falling wide of Harpers right hand post.
That chance came four minutes after the restart - three minutes later however, Newcastle took the lead and it would be the player every fan hated to see score.
evin Nolan managing to back heal a head down by Ameobi after Barton`s in swinging corner caught the Sunderland defence by surprise.
The lead was fully deserved; the home side looking again like the occasion had got to some of the players, much to the frustration of the home crowd.
Sunderland would have a chance later when Elmohamady`s venomous shot looked to be going in but a deflection from Richardson took it wide of the post.
Five minutes of injury time were displayed and somehow lifted the Black Cats and the crowd and eventually it paid off.
Frantic passing lead to a low shot from Bardsley with Harper equal to it, but record signing Asamoah Gyan found himself at the right place at the right time and watched the rebound bounce of his chest to send the Stadium of Light in to raptures and sighs of relief sensed all around.
After the game Bruce expressed his relief but condemned his side to being wrapped up in the occasions and playing panic football.
e told SAFC.com "When you're behind in a derby game and score 30 seconds from the end then of course you are pleased.
"To rescue it was very pleasing as we didn't play at all well in the second half. Newcastle started brightly but for the half an hour leading up to half time I thought we were in the ascendancy.
"Second half we just didn't play and got caught up in the whole occasion again. We didn't take the ball down and play as we normally do.
"We can't resort to just hitting it forward as quickly as we possibly can because we're not that sort of team. However, we'll take the draw, we'll take a point.
"The late goal was great for the fans." he added. "But for me it keeps us five points above them and ticking along with the big part of the season still to come.
"You need a bit of luck in a derby game, it was our turn in the last minute. It was a great strike from Phil and it's hit Asamoah on the chest - that was probably his best touch of the afternoon!
"Newcastle were a handful and they're a big, strong physical team. We struggled against that, I have to be honest, but today we've managed to get out of it.
"We need to play the football we know we can. Today we got drawn into hitting the ball forward early which we haven't done all season."