Saturday 20 August 2011   12 Noon

sunderland 0
Newcastle United 1 (R Taylor 62)

“My staff are looking forward to going into town on Saturday and sharing that with the fans, and that’s what it’s about. I will join them for a couple and I will enjoy it too”. Alan Pardew

At 8.32am; pint in hand and in the shadow of SJP I would gladly have sold a kidney for a guaranteed 0-0 draw and a precious point.

I’m writing this after watching several sets of highlights and reading 4 match reports and I have to say my memory differs from what I’ve seen and read. Were we outplayed by the Dark Forces? Not that I remember.

As expected, sunlin came at us ‘all guns blazing’ from the kick-off but I never, ever at any stage in the first half felt they would or could score against our team of apparent journeymen and French Mercenaries. Monsieur Pardeu had set his stall out in exactly they way we hoped and needed with a flattish back four, five across the middle and Super Shola up front working like a Trojan and it worked; nullifying whatever they thought they had in midfield.

Of course Gyan and Sausageman ran around a lot and had a couple of shots from outside the box but so did Newcastle. Of course the twin Charvas Bardsley and Clattermole snarled a lot and kicked anything that didn’t move but I’m pleased to say Joey Boy kept his cool and Taylor R and Cabaye even managed to get some retaliation in first (it makes a change).

The penalty claim, you ask? Well; I was sitting at the back of the stand at the other end of the ground so shouldn’t really comment (but I will). If I’ve learnt anything in 45 years of supporting the Town it’s recognising how footballers’ body language works.

As soon as the ball hit the lad’s arm, the Newcastle players surrounded Uncle Howard and the sunderland players avoided all eye contact and one appeared to blush.   Even in these petulant days it’s still uncommon for NUFC players to behave that way without something having happened.

Although Gyan hit the top of the bar at the very end of the first half the happiest set of fans was US as the teams trooped off.

You know the rest. NUFC did push forward; not quite a cavalry charge but enough to put them on the back foot and Jonas did what he’s great at – running at the defenders with the ball at his feet until, out of nowhere, Clattermole launched himself two-footed at our fleet footed Argentinean; who looked in agony as he landed on the turf. Even from my eyrie, the Smoggie Charva had to be sent off but what do I know?

As Taylor R swung his boot to connect with the ball I swear not one NUFC fan in the away end expected anything positive to come out of it but the ball floated majestically over the two man wall and everyone in the packed 18 yard box.

Still; no one in the Away end reacted as the ball curled towards the top corner with their keeper flapping at nothing and a manic looking Taylor S hurling himself into the net after the ball.

It might have only been for a very short time but Newcastle United were top of the Premiership and not one of you reading this thought that would happen this season, now did you?

sunderland: Simon Mignolet, Phil Bardsley, Wes Brown, Anton Ferdinand, Kieran Richardson (Craig Gardner 71), Sebastian Larsson (Connor Wickham 81), Lee Cattermole (c), Jack Colback, Ahmed Elmohamady (Ji Dong-Won 71), Stephane Sessegnon, Asamoah Gyan.
Subs not used: Kieren Westwood, Titus Bramble, Louis Laing, David Vaughan, Ji Dong-Won

Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor, Cheik Tiote, Joey Barton; Gabriel Obertan (Dan Gosling 85), Yohan Cabaye (Mike Williamson 85), Jonas Gutierrez, Shola Ameobi.

Subs not used: Steve Harper, Sylvain Marveaux, Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best, Demba Ba

Referee: Howard Webb

Attendance: 47,751 (away fans 2,642)