Middlesbrough 1 - 0 Sunderland
It was another dreadful game as this most dismal of derbies hastened the doom of Sunderland and merely delayed the destined drop for Middlesbrough.
With precious little on the pitch to reflect on, the game was notable merely for a fresh round of anti-Moyes chants and the man himself looking increasingly agitated on the touchline.
His assembled squad continue to look exactly what they are destined to become next season - on the evidence laid out so far in 2017 - a drab, uninspired, admittedly workmanlike but mediocre second-rate, second-tier outfit.
Here's how the national press reported last night's Tees-Wear derby.
There was very little to cheer on the pitch for the Sunderland supporters who travelled to Middlesbrough, hopeful of some respite from the unending misery of limping towards the Championship.
The fact that the Teessiders were little better but still managed to grab three points from this dismal derby merely rubs salt into a growing gaping nasty wound on Wearside as John Wardle in the Express reflects:
Sunderland enjoyed the bulk of the possession without ever resembling a side with creative ideas. Middlesbrough were no better and this was another depressing night for North-East football.
The derby of doom played out as depressingly as it was destined to, with both sets of supporters resorting to gallows humour as their teams laboured around the Riverside pitch according to Craig Hope in the Mail:
This is what the Championship has to look forward to next season. On this evidence, it will be a mid-table contest at best.
Yes, the victory moves Boro to within six points of safety, but given it was their first since before Christmas, how are they going to win two of their final four? Answer: they are not.
Even their supporters are resigned to relegation. ‘You’re going down with the Sunderland,’ sang the visiting fans, to which the home masses returned, ‘You’re going down with the Boro’.
And the relegation which has been rolling towards Wearside for what feels like an eternity has been perfectly summed up by the slumped shoulders and lack of belief from Sunderland's former talisman on which hope rested for so long:
They have hardly been helped of late by Jermain Defoe’s loss of form, although his body language has suggested he is as much fed up as jaded.
David Moyes can be forgiven for dreading the reception he's likely to receive when he steps out in the arena of the Stadium of Light this weekend. For the mood is turning nastier by the game as observed by Louise Taylor in the Guardian:
As the visiting supporters’ “We want Moyes out” shouts gathered both volume and momentum, Steve Agnew and Boro were left clinging to a shred of renewed hope but, six points short of a position of safety, still seem destined to join their north-east neighbours in the second tier.
After cutting an increasingly uneasy figure in the technical area, Sunderland’s manager looked relieved to head down the tunnel at the interval.
“Are you watching, Ellis Short,” sang those away fans, before making their message to Sunderland’s owner plain.
Moyes has much more to worry about than the misconduct charge he has just been served with by the Football Association.
Admittedly it's not been unusual for Sunderland to play 'Ok' for a while in this seemingly endless run of games which simply pass Moyes' team by according to David Coverdale in the Sun:
The Dutchman’s goal came from Boro‘s first attack of the night after they were penned in by the visitors in the opening stages.
But the only goal of the game was straight out of the 2016/17 Sunderland textbook:
But it took only one pass to pierce the Sunderland defence as Ben Gibson lofted a long punt forward from inside his own half.
That carved David Moyes’ men apart, and de Roon raced forward into the area and took a touch before stabbing the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Admittedly the 'Moyes Out' chants have been precipitated by Sunderland conceding early goals in the two games in which they've aired. But they're growing louder:
Sunderland’s away fans sang “We want Moyesy out” after just 21 minutes – the second straight game they have turned on their boss.
The Black Cats' manager needed a derby victory - no matter how inconsequential in this Premier League campaign - to quieten the Wearside crowd the next he takes to the pitch at the Stadium of Light.
Moyes couldn't lift his team to look like they might have a chance against the division's second worst outfit in order to do that. The league's worst are gone and mathematical certainty of the drop will now be a blessing.