An own goal from Demba Ba five minutes from time ensured the 147th Wear-Tyne derby ended in a 1-1 draw this afternoon. Yohan Cabaye had given the Geordies the perfect start after just two minutes but the game changed when his midfield partner Cheick Tiote was sent off for a high tackle on Steven Fletcher.

The Magpies performed admirably with ten men and goalkeeper Tim Krul barely had a save to make all afternoon but could do nothing to stop the unfortunate equaliser.

Alan Pardew decided to start with Shola Ameobi up front alongside Ba, with Papiss Cisse remaining on the bench for the full 90 minutes. However, Ameobi wasn’t able to continue his fantastic record against Sunderland as he was the man sacrificed after Tiote received his marching orders.

Newcastle started brightly and had instantly took the lead when Cabaye slotted home after two minutes. Good work from Hatem Ben Arfa resulted in Ba firing a powerful effort at Simon Mignolet and the rebound fell to Cabaye, who controlled his finish into the bottom corner.

The shell-shocked home side struggled to assert themselves in the opening minutes and the initiative was clearly with Newcastle. Cabaye went close again when his long range free-kick dipped and almost had Mignolet in trouble, although the Belgian stopper managed to palm it over.

Despite all the dominance from the visitors, the game changed on 35 minutes when Tiote was dismissed. The Ivorian had already won a free kick after Jack Colback was pulling his shirt but Tiote still lunged as he tried to retain possession. With studs in the air (although it is doubtful whether the studs actually made contact with Fletcher’s leg) the referee was always going to show the red card and Newcastle’s task was made harder from then on.

Ameobi was withdrawn in an effort to keep the Mackems at bay and was replaced by James Perch in midfield and the change definitely worked, with the home side completely toothless when in possession. Adam Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon were ineffective, while Fabricio Coloccini was repelling everything that came near him.

Coloccini almost made an impact at the other end too, when he connected with a smart corner to fire towards goal. The effort was blocked but the rebound fell to Ba, who tried his luck with a bicycle kick which flew just over the bar.
Sunderland enjoyed most of possession in the remainder of the game but couldn’t do anything with it. The half chances they created came as direct results of mistakes by Newcastle, most notably when Tim Krul fumbled a shot which almost landed at the feet of Johnson, only for Coloccini to prod it away just in time.

The second major turning point of the game came on 79 minutes when the excellent Coloccini was substituted. Having missed three games with a hamstring injury, cramp had started to affect the Argentine defender and he was replaced by Steven Taylor.

Just five minutes after the switch, Sunderland grabbed their equaliser with a generous helping of fortune. Sebastien Larsson’s free kick was flicked on by John O’ Shea and the header struck Ba in the face before wrong-footing Krul and going in.

The home side pushed on for a winner but again never looked like getting it unless another mistake helped them out. However, Newcastle comfortably held on and got their point to keep bragging rights split in the North East.
By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson