Bill Murray has made some great films – Ghostbusters, Caddy Shack, Royal Tenenbaums – absolutely mint. His one box office hit I’ve never been able to abide features him waking up on the same day in perpetuity – Sunderland are fucking dreadful, they’re there for the taking, we contrive to fluff our lines and the whole sorry episode is a cycle of unmitigated misery and frustration – heard it before? This years chapter saw us absolutely dominate the first forty odd minutes before somehow contriving to end up well beaten in yet another hideous derby.
Even the most blinkered Mackem would acknowledge that we dominated the game in the first half but (and it is a big but
and I cannot lie) we couldn’t create a real chance of note and failed to take advantage of our superiority. I’d even go as far as saying that their side and fans were resigned to the inevitable from very early on as we bossed possession and took the game to them from the off. The referee, Richard Madeley of shoplifting and book club fame showed leniency early on, seeking to speak to players rather than brandish a card but Tiote went into the book after following up one yellow card worthy challenge with one in front of the ref thirty seconds later but the tone had been set in the game where stonewall bookings were met with a talking to rather than a card.
Sunderland were reduced to aimless lumps upfield whilst we had good opportunites from Coloccini and most notably Colback who should have done far better than tap a great chipped ball over straight at Lurch Panitllimon. Sissoko was dominant in the middle and the first turning point of the game came when Toivonen limped off to be replaced by Defoe. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that if someone had told me that the Swede had won a competition from the crowd to play in a Premiership game for the day, then I’d have wondered what the entry criteria were. He was that poor. From having a lone striker and singularly failing to close us down, the Mackems all of a sudden had some shape but were still second best when the pivotal moment of the game came seconds before the break.
They broke quickly and the ball was played through. Eliott seemed to stop his run off the line allowing Fletcher a chance of nicking it. He was eased off the ball by Coloccini but the referee deemed it both a foul and a goalscoring opportunity, both of which were at best dubious and sent our captain off whilst awarding a spot kick. Adam Johnson put it in the bottom corner and saw fit to run the length of the pitch to goad our support who had barracked him all game. Still, you never know when you’ll next get the chance to run 100 metres in a straight line eh Adam?
Even down to ten men, we started the second half on top and had a gilt edged chance to level. Mitrovic had miles of space in the box and cut inside his man leaving him with the whole goal to aim at but he fired meekly at Pantillimon and we wilted as our best chance went begging. Before that Colback had limped off after a challenge with Cattermole with the home fans able to get onto the cinder track again to berate the midfielder as he made his way from the pitch. Cattermole got away with murder with the ref comically pointing out four fouls he had committed before drawing the card and while we were still in it at 1-0, any hopes we had were extinguished when they doubled their lead when Billy Jones got on the end of a flick on in front of Eliott sparking their fans into proper life for the first time.
We still had a couple of efforts and threw the laughably bad Thauvin into the fray but they put the icing on their shitty, extra value cake with a third and to be fair it was a canny goal if you ignore Thauvin’s cowardly pulling out of a tackle at the start of the move which led to Fletcher finishing the game and us off. I had a wander down to the concourse at this point, there’s only so many seasons you can bear them celebrating in front of your eyes and I felt strangely indifferent. I was raging last year after getting beat here but I just felt flat today – aye we should have buried them in the first half but aye, we didn’t and I’m not really that arsed about hard luck stories – six in a row against these is fucking unforgivable and we’re second bottom with one win after ten games. It’s all well and good showing promise but if it doesn’t turn into results sharpish then we’re knackered. God only knows which league this game might be in the next time we meet at their place but for now we have to bend over and take it again from them. Grim.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Eliott 5, Janmaat 5, Coloccini 3, Mbemba 6, Dummett 4 (Thauvin 1), Sissoko 7, Colback 5 (Anita 5), Tiote 3 (Lascelles 6), WIJNALDUM 8, Perez 6, Mitrovic 5
Ref – Madley – 2 – Wasn’t up to a game like this
Our Fans – 6 – Noisy in the first half, slipped into familiar numbness in the second
Their Fans – 6 – Very noisy after the goals but you got the sense that even they knew they’d dodged a bullet
GARETH HARRISON – Follow gareth on @truefaith1892