Friday 24 November 2017

Taylor delivers surprise package

Louise Taylor, at the Stadium of Light

On the eve of a derby he was wisely expected to lose, Alan Pardew quietly said he was hoping his Newcastle United team might startle a few people by proving a "surprise package".

With Fabricio Coloccini outstanding at the back, they certainly stunned an alarmingly one-paced Sunderland, leaving Steve Bruce with a look of aching disappointment as, head bowed, the manager scurried down the tunnel at the final whistle.

If it was not quite as bad as last autumn's 5-1 thrashing at St James' Park for Bruce, this was a very bad result for the boyhood Newcastle fan who must be cursing that his next home game is against Chelsea.

Initially the portents looked bright. Bruce said luck would play its part and his side enjoyed a large early slice of it after the match officials missed Sebastian Larsson's blatant handball from Joey Barton's goal-bound header.

Sunderland went on to enjoy the better of the first half. Stephane Sessegnon saw a swerving, dipping shot tipped over the bar by Tim Krul, and a Asamoah Gyan curler on the stroke of half-time clipped the bar.

If both men benefited from some decent midfield service on Jack Colback's part, Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye was also growing into the game. The former Lille playmaker forced Simon Mignolet into a fine save courtesy of a curving, spinning, long-range strike.

Perhaps unused to playing in such mild and sunny conditions at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland faded badly during a second half in which Cheick Tiote improved appreciably, permitting a most unlikely Newcastle player to emerge as a derby hero.

Deployed out of position, Ryan Taylor struggled at left-back but Pardew's utility player has always delivered a mean dead ball. So it proved as Taylor's impeccably executed free-kick from the left arrowed into the top corner.

Even worse came for Bruce, Phil Bardsley was sent off for a ghastly two-footed tackle on Coloccini that could have broken the Argentinian's leg.


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