As part of our Premier League snap-shots feature, Peter Fraser looks back on Sunderland's 1-1 Wear-Tyne derby draw with Newcastle United
Last Updated: October 21, 2012 5:31pm
Martin O'Neill: The Sunderland manager will be concerned about his side's lack of cutting edge
Demba Ba's late own goal rescued Sunderland a 1-1 draw with 10-man Newcastle United in another feisty Wear-Tyne derby on Sunday afternoon.
Yohan Cabaye's third minute goal had looked like it was set to give Alan Pardew's visitors the three points at the Stadium of Light.
And the result would have been all the more impressive for Newcastle given they had to play 65 minutes with a man deficit after Cheick Tiote's foolish red card.
But Ba's 85th minute own goal, which saw him accidently head past team-mate Tim Krul, meant the points were shared.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill kept faith with the men who started the 3-0 defeat at Manchester City and that meant a start for full-back Danny Rose, seemingly the target of racial abuse on England Under 21s duty in Serbia in midweek. There was a place among the substitutes for Phil Bardsley following his recovery from an ankle problem.
Pardew hails player's effort
Derby specialist Shola Ameobi was handed a chance to add to his tally of seven Premier League goals against Sunderland as Newcastle boss Pardew made four changes to the side who lost to Manchester United. Ameobi, who sits only behind Jackie Milburn in the fixture with goals to his name, was included along with the fit-again goalkeeper Krul, captain Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Simpson, while there was a place on the bench for Steven Taylor.
Sunderland started with a 4-4-2 setup but, with Stephane Sessegnon dropping deep and James McClean and Adam Johnson ineffective, star striker Steven Fletcher became isolated. Newcastle doubled up on Johnson and that left the winger as almost a spectator. O'Neill did swap wings with McClean and Johnson belatedly towards the end of the first half but it made little impact. The fact Sunderland struggled to break down 10 men will be a concern.
Newcastle also went into the game with a bold 4-4-2 formation, which is a rarity in away games in the modern Premier League. They immediately looked to get their passing game going in order to frustrate Sunderland and took the early lead through Cabaye. But Tiote's red card meant a reshuffle, with Ameobi sacrificed in a substitution which brought on James Perch and left Ba in a lone attacking role.
O'Neill waited until the 65th minute before making his first substitution and it could be questioned whether that was too late to shake his team into some creativity. David Vaughan came on for Johnson and did have an impact after his club-mate had been shackled. Louis Saha also had much more of a presence than the hugely disappointing Sessegnon.
O'Neill: Extra man provided no advantage
The introduction of Perch for Ameobi was forced on Pardew as a result of Tiote's red card. Ameobi was furious to be sacrificed but he had just been booked and that will have influenced the decision. Steven Taylor came on in place of Coloccini, who either suffered an injury relapse or fatigue. The introduction of Gabriel Obertan for Hatem Ben Arfa simply looked like a method of running down the clock.
Martin Atkinson has a reputation for being a little card-happy and Newcastle will be slightly aggrieved they received five, including Tiote's red, while Sunderland did not see a single player booked. But there can be few complaints about the decision to send off Tiote after his reckless challenge on Fletcher. The match officials were guilty of missing two clear incidents when corners should have been awarded instead of goal-kicks - one off Mike Williamson in the second half and an earlier occasion involving Craig Gardner.
Sunderland remain somewhat of a mystery so far this season. On paper they have a talented and exciting first team but it is not quite clicking. A bonus for O'Neill will be the fact there are some winnable fixtures on the horizon. But Sunderland will know they need to get some points on the board before December when they play Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the space of a month. Thoughts will then turn to finding some goals away from Fletcher in the January transfer window.
If their pre-season ambitions of playing in the UEFA Champions League are not to have realistically disappeared by Christmas, Newcastle will know they cannot afford to keep dropping cheap points. Away form will be a concern for Pardew, having yet to take three points on the road in the league, and this is combined with the fixture congestion which comes with playing in Europe. Newcastle will play nine games in all competitions between now and the end of November. Tiote must also learn his indiscipline is proving repeatedly costly.