MATCH REPORT: Newcastle United 1 Sunderland 1, St James’ Park, 20/Mar/16, KO: 1:30pm, Att: 52,311

by • March 20, 2016 • Match reportsComments (16)3885

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We left it late to avoid a crushing seventh straight defeat to the Mackems, but came away with a result that could ultimately condemn us both to relegation.  Benitez dropped Taylor and Anita for his first game in front of an SJP crowd with Townsend and Mbemba returning to the side and what had been hyped up as the most important derby in half a century started with us taking the game to them in the early stages.  Our early pressure in reality only lasted about ten minutes, with the only half chance coming to Mitrovic from a pull back with the finish ending up high and wide.

Sunderland took a hold of the game, with Kirchoff and Rodwell dominating the MitroSAFCmiddle of the park and our only forward momentum coming through Townsend’s direct play and they created three chances that could have led to the opening goal.  Eliott turned over a header from a corner before Defoe shot into the side netting with the Mackems at the other end of the ground celebrating a goal.  Colback, already booked by this point was having a torrid time, mainly due to the fact that he is utter fucking garbage, against makeshift winger Borini and another cross from that side flashed across the face of goal with Defoe inches away from getting a touch.

We needed to get to half time having weathered their pressure but failed to do so when they took the lead a minute before the break.  It was a poor goal defensively when they played a corner to a completely unmarked Borini on the edge of the 18 yard box and there was an element of fortune when his shot deflected into the path of Defoe but he made no mistake, firing past Eliott inside of the box.  I made Kirchoff their best player by a mile but Defoe reminded us of what we’ve missed this season – a striker with an eye for goal who constantly pressed and chased down our defenders.

After an early chance when Perez saw an effort cleared off the line by M’Vila, there was almost an air of inevitability at the start of the second half when the game fell into a familiar pattern and Eliott was again called on to make a smart stop when he pushed van Aanholts strike over from point blank range.  The game only started to switch in our favour when Benitez made the first of three substitutions on the hour mark, with the awful and now thankfully suspended Colback hooked off for de Jong, with Sissoko slotting into the unfamiliar position of left back.  He offered some forward momentum down the flank and although he often (rightly) derided for his input into games, I actually thought he was alright today.

We were huffing and puffing when Anita and Cisse were brought on for Janmaat and Townsend in quick succession and with a bit of mobility up front from the Senegalese coupled with O’Shea , on as sub and struggling to keep up we finally got an equaliser from virtually nowhere when a looped Wijnaldum cross was met by a leaping Mitrovic to plant a header across goal and past Mannone.  Mitrovic struggled again today, but so poor has the service been to him that you do wonder if there could be a player there if we could get some decent ball into him.  That might be optimistic based on past evidence but either way, this was an absolutely vital equaliser and was followed by a comedy, top off celebration that saw the Serb tumbling over a portly pitch invader.

There was an unlikely victory in the air and we threw everything forward at them but when the goalscorer had to leave the field of play concussed leaving us to see the last couple of minutes out with ten men, we held on for a point and finally put an end to a nightmare sequence of defeats against our nearest and dearest.  I suppose in the circumstances, there is a large element of relief that we didn’t get beat, but tinged with a nagging feeling that we have left it too late to bring in a decent manager to drag us away from what looks like an increasingly precarious position.

If anything, Saturday’s game is even bigger than this one.  Were we to go to Norwich and lose, we’d be six points away from safety and arguably, a point down there won’t really do either.  I’ve heard plenty of people say that we’ll stay up if we beat Norwich, Palace, Swansea and Villa but I look at those reverse fixtures this season and see four points.  Logic says that a side that only has a win ratio of one in five this season is unlikely to make it one in two this late in the season, but for now we have to cling on to blind faith.  We would absolutely have lost today under McClaren and a failure to close out a game they probably should have won will be damaging to the Mackems, who are another key relegation rival.

Keep the Faith

Newcastle United – ELIOTT 6, Janmaat 6 (Cisse 6), Mbemba 6, Lascelles 5, Colback 3 (de Jong 6), Shelvey 6, Wijnaldum 4, Sissoko 6, Townsend 6 (Anita 6), Perez 5, Mitrovic 6

Ref – Atkinson – 5 – Poor, didn’t seem to want to call any big decisions and gave cards for next to nowt.

Our Fans – 6 – Noisy for the first ten and last ten minutes, quiet other than that

Their Fans – 6 – Contributed as much or as little to the atmosphere as our fans

GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892


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16 Responses to MATCH REPORT: Newcastle United 1 Sunderland 1, St James’ Park, 20/Mar/16, KO: 1:30pm, Att: 52,311

  1. Bob says:

    Got nowt from the referee again. Too many players not turning up, again. Sunderland didn’t allow us any time on the ball leading to mistakes and poor passing, very little composure shown and no one could just take hold of the game. For me Shelvey was too deep and I don’t know where Gini was playing, I can’t recall him getting in any scoring positions. Lascelles and Mbemba probably had more of the ball than anyone. Poor result for both teams but especially us. We’re relying too much on other teams now.

  2. Peter Ward says:

    Keep the faith indeed. Supporters have been keeping it for many years despite crushing disapointments the norm. This team has no spine. Allardyce has had more time and it showed although they are just as likely to face the drop. We have to beat Norwich who are limited but are fighting hard. As you say it is a very tall order to win three or four from seven given what has gone before this season. Benitez has been given a near impossible task and a near miracle is needed for us to stay up. If somehow this happens then he would be truly a miracle man. Do you believe in miracles?

    • Davey says:

      Errol Brown believed in miracles, Peter.

    • Otterburn says:

      In the unlikely event that Senor Benitez is able to keep this, overtly expensive & utterly crap, squad of players in the Premiership, it will far outweigh his achievements in the way of La Liga titles, Europe Cup & Champion,s League success!

      Much as I admire his willingness to polish a turd/attempt the impossible I wish to see this rotten from top to bottom club I’ve supported since my father took me in the mid 50’s relegated. more than once if necessary.
      Only then without international, & indeed very little UK TV coverage for his shoddy products do I believe that Ashley will depart

  3. andrew mc says:

    I chanced upon the mackem’s forum when i was googling the match report, they love you Mick! what a cess pit of vitriol from the great unwashed, they are obsessed with us and over half the topics started are about NUFC, they even mentioned coming to your home village to take you out (I live there as well), The fact fat Sam is feted on there speaks volumes about their aspirations


  4. Kevin McClurey says:

    De Jong made a difference, and although Cisse didn’t do much, but the fact there was someone else up front with Mitrovic made his job much easier.

    Why do we never just play 2 up front from the start?

    • Nev says:

      I think the reason we never play two up top is that our defence is woeful and we need the holding player.

      Anybody else feel Boring spent the first 45 trying to get the very poor Colwick sent off?

  5. Anton says:

    Agreed, I don’t get it either. I know 4-4-2 is unfashionable but we play better like this and we need to score goals (because we can’t keep a clean sheet to save our lives and draws are not going to save us at this point).

    Anyway, back to the game: the lack of quality was depressing; is NE football on its death-bed?
    The only differences between us and them was that they seemed a much more settled side. I’m hoping that the international break will help us become more cohesive. And good news on Colback: I think he needs a rest and Rafa needs to think about how to utilise him. He’s a decent player who’s been working very hard for the team but this shouldn’t mean that he gets played in a different position every game! It’s sad that we’ve turned him into “garbage” just to keep Sissoko happy (let’s see how much of a strop he’ll throw if he is told to play left-back).

  6. Bob says:

    Miracles do happen . But never to me/us.

  7. oliver simpson says:

    Yesterday saw much of why we are we we are. Sloppy play from our players, constant overlapping in getting into positions to shoot or even defend at times. Complete giving away of large space on the wing by both colback and jamatt. The latter too often goes too far up and leaves the right area of the defense open that forced Townsend back from where he needs to be.

    Lack of marking of key players and too often giving dumb free-kicks away in set piece areas, colback struck again in this area. He was lucky not to be sent off in my book. Mbemba just didn’t look like he was organzing that defence at all, this is a big problem that has been there for three season now since Fabio has made it clear he wants to go home. No one is there to whip that line into shape, no John Terry, Gary Nevillie or Stuart pearce to shout at the others to do better.

    Townsend was our best player yesterday with his runs, his attempts to cross and working all round the pitch. He is starting to prove his investment in spite of my doubts about him. Jojo as captain i can’t really say if it’s having an impact, at the moment i think Rafa is playing too too deep at back for him to do the passing that he can do, though i suspect he may be there to shout back to defence while Fabio is out injured.

    Sissoko actually looked not too bad yesterday for the most part, he did more than he has pretty much done all season. gini seemed to have his moments especially with the cross that got us the goal. Perez seemed quiet for the most part, he just couldn’t get into the game despite being in the center where he likes to be, once he went wide he seemed to liven up more.

    Not sure what exactly De Jong did on the pitch yesterday, he just seemed to be there. What exactly is he suppose to be now, a holding midfielder? Hang back striker? or something else.

    As for Mitro, glad he got the goal but apart from that. He simply never looked like grabbing something on his won up front. As much as he tried, he simply just doesn’t seen to be be the sort of striker that can grab the goals the way Cisse is capable of doing and what Defoe does for Sunderland.

    Plus there is still him letting his passions get the better of him at times, he was lucky to not get a yellow like Colback and Jamatt did. Rafa will really need to get him to temper it from the way he tried to stay on the pitch afterwards.

    Norwich is a must win game no matter what, our survival will massively depend on it, a loss there and i think it is simply a bridge too far for us to reach. Every game now we need to go out to win or to get back into if we do go a goal down. No more of this giving up mentality that has plagued our club for the last decade, no more just hanging on to results. It’s do or die for the next 6 to 8 weeks for the players.

  8. tomb says:

    I still think of the three we are the most likely to stay up. The squad is stronger than the other two although Defoe would walk into our side. Norwich is a huge game but hardly unwinnable bearing in mind they’ve won something like one in the last ten. Villa away should be a win and there are other home games where there’s a good chance of a win. Either way our run in is relatively good. Here’s hoping

  9. TerryHibbetOnTheWIng says:

    I don’t think we need to be over-despondent with this result. I looked at it as a Must Not Lose rather than a Must Win. If we believe that Benitez is a real manager who commands respect and is capable of making players play in an organized manner with some pride and conscience then he needs some time to work that magic. And time is what we also need to get some of the walking wounded back into the fray. With the international break thingy granting some of that time – the real trick was not to fall too far behind Norwich and the mackems before that respite. Next match we may have a proper left back, Cisse ready for proper action, Colo if necessary etc. etc. etc.

  10. mikey says:

    If we’re going to stay up we;re going to have to start getting wide, bombing on and crossing balls in. We;re not good enough to play through the centre. 4 4 2 and crack on.