10th November 07
Attendance: Full up
Part one of the North East`s premier footballing event between the regions top teams was hardly what One North East would show as further development of the region`s improvements of late. We were rank awful, surpassed in that category only by the mackems` finishing ability, as we demonstrated why we`re midtable at best and the mackems why they are going to struggle.
Hands up straight away to any mackems reading - you did deserve to win. You won the second balls, created the most clear cut chances and hit the woodwork. In comparison to Harper, Gordon should have had the deckchair out for the afternoon. Allardyce`s tictacs were bewildering whilst Keane seemed to have done a good job geeing the Sunderland players up. Credit over for now.
Allardyce had taken the hatchet to the team so embarrassingly humbled by Pompey last weekend. Out went Geremi, Beye, Enrique and Cacapa as Milner, Taylor, Rozenhal and N`Zogbia came back into the team. What looked a reasonable team on paper though was shown up on the pitch.
First half and the mackems had chances through Wallace, Leadbitter (three times) and Chopra. I can`t remember us having one worthy of the name. Harper`s stop from Chopra was particularly sharp and he justified his inclusion despite a statue-like performance against Pompey.
Pick of the pops though was Barton kicking Dickson Etuhu in the knackas, something he`ll no doubt face FA retribution for. Sadly that was the best he could muster all match in a woefully ineffective performance at right mid. As they went in at half time level many of us had fond memories of Roeder`s half time team talk last time at the ground as we ran in four goals in the second half.
As they came out though it was obvious Sam`s words must have either been shite or had gone straight through their thick heeds. The mackems piled on the pressure again, forcing our defence into making a number of mistakes. From the short corner it was crossed for the unmarked (again) Sunderland player to head in at the far post. Cue Trampwatch as multiple local yokels flooded onto the pitch.
It wasn`t long before we levelled though. Milner swung across a cross that floated aimless into the six yard box and nestled in Gordon`s far corner. It was one of those surreal moments where everyone took about 5 seconds to realise it had actually go in. Thoughts of 'game on` started flooding in and, with Martins on the bench, this looked a real possibility.
However Sam bottled it. He kept the Nigerian and his pace on the bench until the last five minutes by which time the game was dead. Chopra had also crashed a header against the bar as they sought to end the 27 year hoodoo against us at home.
So it ended 1-1 and the record was preserved. Overall though what a disappointment on our part that we didn`t looked up for it until they scored. Lets see what the return at SJP brings in April.