Newcastle 2 Sunderland 0
Sid James Park
20th April 2008 13:30
Any defeat is hard to stomach but a defeat to your bitterest rivals is even harder to take.
The first half was basically a non-event with Sunderland gifting a 4-minute goal to Newcastle`s Michael Owen. The England front man converted a pinpoint accurate cross after he ghosted in behind McShane.
The first four minutes were to become a reflection of the whole of the first half with Sunderland giving Newcastle too much time on the ball by not closing them down.
Newcastle extended their lead just before the break when Sunderland conceded a penalty. Higginbotham was adjudged to have handled in the box as Owen tried to get past him. Owen converted from the spot, as Gordon`s touch couldn`t keep his powerful shot out.
Roy Keane`s half time team talk must have done the trick as his side came out after the break a much-improved side.
With his side passing the ball around a lot more fluently Whitehead, Collins and Jones all came close to scoring a Sunderland an equaliser but all their efforts were blocked by a resilient defence.
Sunderland`s first clear cut chance of the second half came when Collins wiped in a cross for Jones to head goal bound only for Harper to save.
Gordon then made a great save to deny Martins
Jones had another great header saved by Harper after Miller`s bended cross-evaded all of Newcastle`s defence.
Sunderland`s last chance came when Miller put his long-range shot is high and wide.
Sunderland were by far the better side in the second half but found Harper in fine form to be equal to everything they tried.
Sunderland Line Up 4-5-1
McShane 3 (Harte 6)
Edwards 5 (Richardson 5)
Murphy 4 (Chopra 6)
Subs not used
Vital Sunderland Says
Evans and Bardsley were a big miss at the back as we started to leak sloppy goals in their absence. Top priority for Keane has to be to sign Evans in the summer.