Newcastle secured an important draw with a late goal in another bad tempered Tyne-Wear derby. With the game in injury time Shola Ameobi once again showed his knack of coming up with crucial goals in derby games to salvage some local pride. The result means that Newcastle will take the derby honours for another season although their performance was not entirely convincing.
There is little love lost between the two teams with matches in recent seasons often resembling a warzone. Sunday’s game was no different with referee Mike Dean facing one of the hardest games he will manage all season. With a booking as early as the first minute it was always going to be unlikely that all 22 players would remain on the field. That proved to be the case although Alan Pardew will be pleased his players just about managed to keep their heads unlike several of the opponents. The normally placid Pardew was involved in several confrontations with the opposition’s bench which could set the scene for further fireworks in the future.
Shola Ameobi has always been a divisive figure among the Newcastle fans with his ability to infuriate and delight often dividing opinions. But his ability to produce the goods in the biggest game of the season means he will always have a special place in the hearts of the majority of the Toon Army. His goal in the 91st minute of the game made it seven goals in 12 matches against Sunderland.
His introduction along with that of Hatem Ben Arfa helped to change the match in the Magpies’ favour. He replaced the ineffectual Papiss Cisse in the 72nd minute with the Senegalese striker struggling to get into the fast paced nature of the game. Ameobi’s greater physical presence caused more problems for the Sunderland defenders and he won the penalty late on with a good bit of play. Given the 30 year old’s record from the spot and with the benefit of hindsight it could be argued that he should have taken the kick over Ba. It would be fair to say that Ameobi’s career is currently at a crossroads with the striker likely to be a bit-part player if he decides to remain with Newcastle for the rest of his career. But so long as he continues to deliver the goods against the old foe then maybe that will be enough.
Before the game the club delivered some good news by announcing that Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini had both new long term deals. The influential pair have signed five and four year extensions respectively. The signing of Coloccini was particularly important with the club captain nearing the end of his present contract.
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