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ITHICS Fanzine: “Sunderland gifted Newcastle all three goals during Saturday’s derby”

Nic Wiseman of ITHICS Fanzine reflects on Sunderland’s FA Cup derby day disappointment in his latest Roker Report column

Danny Roberts | Roker Report

They came, they went and the Christmas gift offerings were extended a day beyond the twelfth night.

Although there’s little doubt that the Mags were worth their win, we gifted them all three goals and they had very few (if any) clear-cut chances, other than the presents we offered them on a plate.

They were quicker to the ball and Anthony Gordon had Trai Hume in his pocket, but they weren’t firing on all cylinders. Many of their passes landed in touch and way off their intended targets.

I just feel if we’d thought about this game a little more intelligently, we could’ve made more of a fist of it.

Firstly, our tactic of playing out from the back was stupid.

Each time we did that, Newcastle had three or even four men standing on the eighteen yard line, making it nigh on impossible for us to progress up the pitch. This resulted in us taking the ball to the corner flag and inviting even more pressure.

We constantly delayed too much with possession in midfield, with their players robbing the ball off us each time. They were quicker to loose balls and we didn’t seem to want to compete, or were too affected by the occasion to fight.

Their second goal was a case in point.

It’s the third time that Pierre Ekwah has been caught in possession which eventually led to an opposition goal, and this one was far closer to the goal-line than those conceded against Norwich and Birmingham.

On derby days, they say ‘play the game, not the occasion’, and I wonder whether we were guilty of that, because we made it hard for ourselves.

Our passing was awry but so was theirs, and if we’d attacked and scrambled a goal in the first ten minutes, they would’ve been scared. Instead, it was our players who looked scared.

Hume should’ve put his foot through Gordon in the first minute rather than the fortieth after they’d scored their first goal, and none of our players imposed themselves early enough.

Jack Clarke was ineffectual and was constantly pleading for balls to go over his head to chase, but it never happened.

I showed my face in a pub in High Heaton on Saturday night and after much piss-taking, they were asking about the substitute who came on at eighty minutes, who looked like a ‘livewire’.

They clearly haven’t seen Abdoullah Ba very often, but the fact that no substitutes were used until that point was another head-scratcher.

It was a tactical mismatch on Saturday, as Eddie Howe got his tactics spot on and Michael Beale was left severely wanting.

Howe has obviously watched us and knew how we liked to play out from the back (a tactic that constantly annoys me).

Newcastle, on the other hand, didn’t press high from the start as they usually do and I thought they were diffident and hesitant in the opening exchanges. If we’d had more adventure about us, we could’ve exploited that.

Having said that, their quality is way above ours but before the 1973 FA Cup final, the same would be said about Leeds United. We didn’t give them anything to think about and it was too easy for them.

If you don’t take risks you don’t get anything, and I just think we missed an opportunity to extend our unbeaten derby run further.

As for their fans, they all had their free scarves waving but they made little noise. In fact, Alex Pritchard rattling the bar and Luke O’Nien’s tackle on Lewis Miley got a bigger roar.

Overall, the occasion was a great one, and I miss derby days.

An attendance of just under 45,000 was telling and disappointing. We had a crowd of 49,000 when we played them in February 2002, but in those days, the away fans were in the south stand.

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