Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Great Unwashed 1 - 4 Newcastle

Who put the ball in the Mackems' net? How long have you got? Chopra, Shearer, N'Zogbia and Luque all added their names to our growing band of players (and former players) who've scored at the Stadium of Shite in recent years, against a team already condemned to Championship football next season.

That we would win with our most convincing derby victory in years was far from a foregone conclusion as the first half unfolded, with Kevin Ball's relegated mob consistently first to the ball, dominating the first half by showing greater desire and commitment all around the pitch, and a goal to the good at half time.

The Mackem goal came courtesy of Arsenal loanee Justin Hoyte, who began a move at right back, and continued his run upfield as the ball was worked down the flank. When the cross eventually came into the middle, Amady Faye's fluffed attempt at a clearance left Hoyte with a simple tap-in to give the home side the lead.

According to his post match interview, Glenn Roeder took the opportunity presented to him by the half-time break to explain in a full and frank manner where he thought we were going wrong, and sent the team back on to the pitch with firm instructions to show a significant improvement.

With fourteen minutes of the second half passing by with signs of improved endeavour but no crucial breakthrough, Roeder took off Lee Clark (who was unsurprisingly booed from first to last by the locals) and brought on Michael Chopra. Chopra jogged forward, and then picked up speed to run on to Titus Bramble's long punt, chest it down and poke it into the net, to score his first league goal for the club.

Eighteen seconds later and Charles N'Zogbia was hauled down in the penalty area, and up stepped Alan Shearer to slam home the spot kick, finally laying to rest the demons of his penalty miss from several years ago and give us a 2-1 lead.

N'Zogbia had been a handful all afternoon, and minutes later his strong twisting run ended with him firing the ball into the corner of the net to give us an unassailable 3-1 lead, with all our goals coming in one glorious six minute spell.

Then, with the Mackems clearly a beaten team, Shearer went down in a challenge with Julio Arca, and twisted his knee as he landed. Despite attempting to play on, it was clear that Shearer was struggling to walk, and he hobbled disconsolately down the tunnel to be replaced by Albert Luque.

That Luque was sent clear in the 87th minute to score his first goal in a black and white shirt, and condemn the mackems to their worst derby defeat since 1956, was the icing on the cake.

Sadly, the news that Shearer may not recover from his knee injury to ever play for us again is a dark cloud in an otherwise gloriously bright sky - but with only three games to go, we may yet salvage a UEFA Cup spot from an otherwise dreary season, and if it is to be Shearer's last game, our biggest derby victory for fifty years isn't a bad way to bow out.

A Mackem's perspective: Sunderland AFC Blog

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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