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Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland (Newcastle Fan's Perspective)

Tuesday 6th March 2012
The definition of a derby game is a full blooded, passionate affair between a couple of local rivals, yes? Well, the 134th Tyne-Wear derby was no different, with no less than 9 yellow cards, two reds and plenty more tasty action to talk about in the pub afterwards for both sets of fans.

As I say, no derby is a particularly nice experience, they are usually very nerve racking, frustrating and aggressive games. This match was no different, in fact I'd say it was even worse than usual, and that is saying something, given the past meetings of Newcastle and Sunderland.

What I do love about the match, is the fact that it is completely unique, with a different feeling to every other game of the season. For example, as you walk up to the game, you can hear chants from both sets of fans in the City centre! The noise levels only increase from there too, the greeting of the teams as they entire the field is just ridiculous, the kind of atmosphere that makes you wish you were a footballer. Fifty-fifty balls would be celebrated like goals, goals would be celebrated like wins and wins would be celebrated like titles. The Sunderland fans were outnumbered, it was Newcastle's day to shine, not to use a cliché, but we had to play the game, not the occasion.

As the game itself kicked off, the talk was obviously about the first big decision was going to be, and with the referee being Mike Dean, a guy who loves to be the centre of attention, it surely wasn't far away. In fact it was precisely 45 seconds, I was told by my Dad to watch out for a Cattermole booking early on, except I'm sure he didn't expect it this early! The Sunderland captain completely up ended Toon midfielder Cheik Tiote and his name was taken, with barely a minute on the clock. Again the noise was something else; I genuinely believed he'd been sent off judging by the noise that greeted the yellow! That incident set the tone, as Tiote being how he is, he was certain to want revenge. Aggression seemed to be the word of the day, because this game was tribal, and it was vital to win.

Newcastle started well, with Tiote and his midfield partner Yohan Cabaye seeing a lot of the ball early on, though it wasn't to last, as we didn't push on as much as we'd like, and Sunderland began to implement their game plan on proceedings. Sunderland didn't dominate per say, but there was no doubt that they were the better side, as they seemed to want it more than us. They worked harder, closed us quicker and looked to have the cooler heads, with Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba, Newcastle's most potent threat, not getting a kick.

The first brawl of the game broke out quite early on, when Danny Simpson reacted angrily to a James McLean challenge, and everyone piled in. Sunderland took the lead in the first half, probably deservedly, but it was yet another big incident. A 24th minute free kick was floated in to the box, and seemingly going out of harm's way. However, Dean spotted something, a Mike Williamson pull on Michael Turner, penalty given. Niklas Bendtner stepped up, and the cocky Danish international on loan from Arsenal placed well in the bottom left hand corner, despite Tim Krul guessing the right way. 1-0. Newcastle really needed to come up with something, and quick, but with the exception of some good link up play between Cisse and Ba before half time, with Ba also finding the woodwork, but we couldn't make anything happen.

It was a different story in the second half, with Demba going very close straight after the break; the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa in the place of Davide Santon made a huge difference to Newcastle's fortunes. Newcastle pushed and pushed, and it was that man Dean again that failed to help us out when it was right to, failing to give us at least two penalties in the second half. However, we still pushed on, with Ben Arfa going close a couple of times, though the age old problem with him is that he often does too much, proving right again.

The game truly changed when Sunderland's star man Stephane Sessegnon saw red for a slap on Tiote, although even I'll admit, Tiote didn't exactly cover himself in glory by going down the way he did. Now was our chance to pull ourselves back into the derby game, and we kept going. Sunderland however really should have made it 2-0 when McLean was stopped by a great Tim Krul save. A bit more Newcastle luck happened, shock! Substitute Fraizer Campbell brought down fellow sub and traditional derby hero Shola Ameobi down in the area, penalty! Demba Ba stepped up, and missed, too be honest I wanted Shola to take it, as did many Toon fans.

Finally though, with moments left, we equalised, with the traditional derby hero there at the right time again, at the back post, Shola Ameobi tapped in the equaliser in stoppage time, to save the derby and send the home fans into raptures. To add to Martin O'Neill's woes, Cattermole was shown a red at the final whistle for foul and abusive language.

Newcastle now lie 6th in the League, with 10 games remaining, 5 points clear of Liverpool, with Sunderland still down in 12th, not safe just yet...
Harry De Cosemo
19 years old, Newcastle season ticket holder. European football enthusiast and aspiring football writer. Currently doing a Journalism degree at Teesside University. You can follow me on Twitter: @harrydecosemo

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