Half Time: Sunderland 0-1 Newcastle United - Our Own Worst Enemy So Far

Alex Livesey

At half time at the Stadium Of Light it's the visitors who hold an advantage on the scoresheet, but Sunderland have a great chance to get back into things following Cheik Tiote's dismissal for a foul on Steven Fletcher. Remember to check back HERE for more reaction as the day goes on.

The game got off to the worst possible start as with barely two minutes - two bloody minutes - on the clock, the visitors had the lead.

Danny Rose lost the ball cheaply in midfield when he tried to play in James McClean who'd slipped. Hatem Ben Arfa broke down the left, feeding Shola Ameobi who's shot to the front post was well stopped by Simon Mignolet, but the rebound fell straight to Yohan Cabaye who stuck it in the bottom corner beyond Mignolet and Gardner who'd got back to cover.

The comeback was a little slow until Seb Larsson managed to get a cross in towards Steven Fletcher which had fans on their feet but the Scotsman couldn't get himself on the end of it. Stephane Sessegnon also tried his luck but his effort was well blocked.

A theme was emerging though, and that was that after a mere ten minutes our own biggest problem was our own sloppiness. Passes a stray lead to every chance Newcastle had early on, and they'd already take one.

With fifteen on the clock our best chance up to then presented itself as Danny Rose foraged forward and won a freekick. With Seb Larsson lurking it was a great opportunity, and you could see the idea as his shot was whipped towards the front post but no touch was a-coming and it was a disappointingly easy save for Tim Krul.

Within five minutes there was a freekick at the other end which nearly spelled disaster for us as Cabaye took everyone by surprise - including Mignolet - and took an effort at goal which was well stopped. Generally to that point we'd been on top but lacked in any sort of killer instinct as the clock ticked over the twenty minute mark.

A turning point came as Cheik Tiote was red-carded in the 24th minute. The game hadn't actually been a particularly aggressive one to that point. With Jack Colback hassling the man from the Ivory Coast a freekick was awarded near the half way line. Tiote however - clearly aggrieved by what Colback had done - left a late foot in on Steven Fletcher who had come in to nip the ball away. A red card, and a huge boost and advantage was now Sunderland's.

Adam Johnson wasted a glorious chance to score with 30 minutes gone when after McClean had his shot blocked, falling straight into the path of Johnson... who took far too much time faffing about to get it on his left foot, before eventually shooting high, wide and not particularly handsome.

Craig Gardner actually came closer from further out with a sweetly struck freekick which whistled inches wide of Krul's right-hand post as we continued to assert ourselves on the game during the first half.

Clearly sensing this Alan Pardew withdrew Shola Ameobi from the game to put on James Perch and shore up the midfield. Freekicks, corners and efforts from distance all came from ourselves but yet again it was just the final killer instinct of pass which was lacking for best part of 40 minutes.

McClean and Johnson switched wings for the final few minutes of the first half but it still yielded little in terms of creating a clear cut chance. We'd had one or two but it needed to be more. All too often in the first half we'd shown nothing in the final third, with perhaps most notably Stephane Sessegnon almost absent from proceedings.

There;s hope though. There's always hope as we do hold a man advantage, and if we can kick things up a notch we definitely will get back into this. At the moment though that "if" looks like it's getting bigger with every passing minute.

You can follow all the match coverage right HERE today, including our full time report and player ratings to come later this evening. Not to mention we'll be dissecting the result in greater detail early next week.

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