As derby’s go, this was a big one. This fixture back in 2016 arguably had more on the line than our play-off meeting back in 1990. Both teams were in a desperate mess, fighting to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Sunderland, under Sam Allardyce, were sitting just one point above the relegation zone, while Newcastle, managed by Rafa Benitez, who was appointed only nine days prior to replace the sacked Steve McClaren, were in 19th place, three points from safety.
The result of this fixture had the potential to flip the whole relegation scrap on its head.
After a starting period to the game where we appeared to focus solely on the threat of Andros Townsend, we gradually grew into the game and Jermain Defoe came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 18th minute. Jack Rodwell ran beyond the defence to pull it back to Defoe who could only find the side netting, which sparked brief celebrations in the Gods as the away contingent thought it found the back of the net.
Just before the break, however, it was that man Jermain Defoe, who made sure this time and found the net to give the Lads a well timed lead. The former England international was on hand to volley home with his left foot after the ball wasn’t cleared following a decent save from Elliot in reply to a stinging Borini shot, giving Big Sam a different team talk to compose at the interval.
Only a minute into the second half, Yann M’Vila was required to clear a header from Ayoze Pérez off the line with Vito Mannone beaten. Even though the home side were looking for the equaliser, it wasn’t one-way traffic and just before the hour mark Patrick Van Aanholt forced an unbelievable save from Rob Elliot with a close range volley.
We looked to be keeping them at arms length, but in the 83rd minute, it happened. Georginio Wijnaldum easily got the better of second half substitute Dame N’Doye and clipped a ball to the back post where Aleksandar Mitrovic headed the ball back to where it came from and into the far corner.
The two managers then became the most animated figures in the stadium as the clock ticked down but the final whistle went as we failed to make it seven straight wins over the mags and Allardyce had come so close to completing the double over Newcastle, even though he’d only been charge for only five months.
After the game, the former Bolton manager, clearly wasn’t happy regarding the dropping of two vital points:
We’re our own worst enemy. I don’t need red wine... I need Brandy.
Sunday 20th March 2016
Barclays Premier League
Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland
[Mitrovic 83’ - Defoe 44’]
Sunderland: Mannone, Yedlin, Kone, Kaboul (O’Shea), van Aanholt, Kirchhoff (Cattermole), Rodwell, M’Vila, Khazri (N’Doye), Defoe, Borini Substitutes not used: Pickford, Jones, Lens, Toivonen
Newcastle United: Elliot, Janmaat (Anita), Colback (De Jong), Shelvey, Mbemba, Lascelles, Townsend (Cisse), Wijnaldum, Mitrovic, Perez, Sissoko Substitutes not used: Darlow, Taylor, Saivet, Riviere