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Tempers boil over as Ameobi grabs last-gasp equaliser


Alan Pardew and
Martin O'Neill are kept apart by Lee Mason as tempers reach boiling point

Alan Pardew and Martin O'Neill are kept apart by Lee Mason as tempers reach boiling point

Ryan Taylor goes head-to-head with Kieran Richardson

Ryan Taylor goes head-to-head with Kieran Richardson


Alan Pardew and Martin O'Neill are kept apart by Lee Mason as tempers reach boiling point

Bitterness, bad blood, accusations and acrimony. From the first minute to well beyond the last.

There seems a concerted effort in these parts to make the north-east derby the most vitriolic in English football; yesterday, it felt like it had taken the title.

Not even Mike Dean's final whistle could end the hatred, four minutes after Shola Ameobi had struck a dramatic 91st-minute equaliser.

Indeed, at that point, this game moved into a more sinister stratosphere.

Lee Cattermole, the Sunderland captain who had been booked after 39 seconds for a scything challenge on Chieck Tiote, was shown a straight red for foul and abusive language towards the official in charge of a game that took everything to its extreme.

Martin O'Neill then accused Newcastle officials of visiting the referee at half-time, implying an influence that changed the subsequent officiating.

John Carver, the Newcastle assistant manager, stood at the back of the press conference as the allegation was made and clearly did not agree.

Nor did Alan Pardew, who was quickly made aware of the accusation, went to see Dean and was assured that none of his staff had approached the official.

The two managers had clashed twice during the game -- first when both benches squared up to each other following a challenge by James McClean and later when Pardew over-celebrated the winning of a penalty.


This parochial spat proved so much more than that, serving up almost everything -- a penalty that went in, a penalty that did not, two straight red cards, eight bookings, a 21-man melee -- even the undignified shot of two managers almost nose-to-nose at the edge of their technical areas and at the edge of their emotional tethers.

At half-time, Andy Woodman, the Newcastle goalkeeping coach, had been sent to the stands following a row in the tunnel with Jim Henry, the Sunderland fitness coach. At times, it was difficult to keep up.

"It was everything people had told me about," O'Neill said. "Everything. Hostility, which I'm kind of used to, fervour, everything. In a perverse sort of way, I was enjoying it, and then disappointed at the end. The noise was deafening. It really was something."

McClean's challenge on Danny Simpson at the Gallowgate End of the ground after 19 minutes was a fraction late and every player bar Simon Mignolet was involved in a free-for-all.

Both benches squared up to each other and the whole game was played on the edge from then until the final whistle. Five minutes later, Kieran Richardson's left-wing free-kick saw Mike Williamson grab the shirt of Michael Turner.

Dean, who had an excellent match, pointed to the penalty spot, from where Nicklas Bendtner opened the scoring.

The Danish forward then went close with a volley and Craig Gardner saw a shot deflected wide.

Only at the half's death did Newcastle rally. Demba Ba headed the ball against the bar in the 43rd minute and then was denied a penalty when pulled down by O'Shea in injury-time.

The second half was different, bossed by Newcastle. Still, they needed an excellent double-save from Tim Krul in the 57th minute to provide a springboard for their point.

Forty seconds later, Tiote and Stephane Sessegnon came together at the centre circle. Sessegnon lashed out with a forearm to hit Tiote in the throat.

Dean produced red and the forward was snubbed by his manager as he went down the tunnel.

Newcastle took their corner count to 15 in a relentless second half during which the substitutes changed the game.

Hatem Ben Arfa was outstanding, stinging Mignolet's fingers with his shooting and dancing past those in red and white shirts.

Still, it took a reckless challenge from Fraizer Campbell, flooring Ameobi, to give them a penalty. Ameobi, whose record against Sunderland is excellent, strangely did not take it. Ba did. It was weak and Mignolet stopped to his left.

At the death, of the game, if not necessarily the hostilities, Ameobi did it himself, arriving at the far post to steer a Williamson flick-on beyond Mignolet.

Ameobi has a knack of such things, having now scored seven in such meetings.

Only Jackie Milburn, with 11 goals, has scored more Tyne and Wear derby goals than Ameobi, who Newcastle manager Alan Pardew simply called a "legend".

The striker's status will have risen higher yesterday by claiming the point that pushed his club closer an unlikely dream of European football next season. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent