Johnson jinx continues as Black Cats beat Newcastle on derby day
It’s going to be a grim Christmas in Newcastle, as Sunderland came into Toon and conquered them at St James’ Park yet again. Adam Johnson, a Magpies schoolboy and former Middlesbrough player, did the damage with a 90th minute winner.
Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has now failed to win any of the last five Tyne-Wear derbies. Couple this with the current context of a third straight defeat in league and cup, and it’s easy to see how the Toon Army might turn on him again.
Here at Coral, we’ve said before the Magpies saga surrounding Pardew is better than any scripted television of Geordie Shore fame. Mackems madness set in following a game which lacked any real quality, but had commitment and tasty tackles in abundance.
Lee Cattermole set the tone for this encounter by committing a foul inside 12 seconds, though the history books will only show his 56th minute caution and subsequent substitution. One of the most combustible elements on display was later pictured with an ice pack on his knee and lower thigh.
Punters that took advantage of Coral’s introductory offer by staking £5 on there being a yellow card in this derby are quids in. Eight men, four from each side, went into referee Anthony Taylor’s notebook.
As despairing as the Toon Army will be, Sunderland head coach (a title he is only to keen to remind the media of) Gus Poyet will hardly be able to believe his luck.
When the Black Cats lost experienced full back Anthony Reveillere to injury in the warm-up and had to reshuffle, it looked like being too many square pegs in round holes.
Instead, it fell to Romanian goalie Costel Pantilimon, recruited from Manchester City this summer, to make superb second half saves from Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko. Some 44 seconds after that latter stop, the visitors went up the other end and scored.
Johnson started and ended the move, riding tired and desperate Newcastle challenges, using Steven Fletcher, who found Will Buckley to tee him up. It’s the third season in a row the winger has netted on Tyneside, and so you can fairly call him a major menace to the Magpies.
What this encounter missed in clear cut chances was compensated for by drama. Steven Taylor’s selfless bravery saw him collide with his own post when clearing a Sunderland counter, but the Newcastle defender re-emerged from the tunnel after stitches.
Rookie Magpies stopper Jak Alnwick did well on his full home debut, but was indebted to the woodwork, which denied Fletcher. Johnson, prior to scoring, also dragged wide with the goal gaping.
Poyet’s outbursts and overt criticism about Sunderland recruitment could have become a rod for his own back if he failed to get a decent result here, but now things look rosier.
The Black Cats remain Premier League draw specialists, but are now clear of immediate danger and have real strugglers Hull City at home to come on Boxing Day.