Ba own goal halts 10-man Toon

Demba Ba’s own goal four minutes from time handed Sunderland a

fortunate 1-1 draw against 10-man Newcastle in Sunday’s Wear-Tyne

derby.

Ba could only look on in horror as John O’Shea’s 85th-minute

header hit him and sailed past helpless keeper Tim Krul.

The Black Cats could scarcely argue it was deserved after

failing to make the most of Cheick Tiote’s 25th-minute dismissal

for a studs-up challenge on Steven Fletcher.

Yohan Cabaye had got the Magpies off to the perfect start with

just three minutes gone and the visitors held on to their lead

relatively comfortably until a final onslaught.

Sunderland, despite seeing plenty of the ball, were rarely able

to trouble Krul as Adam Johnson, James McClean and Stephane

Sessegnon struggled to provide any meaningful service for frontman

Steven Fletcher.

But although they emerged with a point, the Black Cats have won

only one home league derby since 1980, and have now tasted victory

home or away against their neighbours on just one occasion in the

last 16.

Newcastle left perhaps feeling they should have been doing so

with all the points after staging a brave rearguard action in which

returning skipper Fabricio Coloccini was superb, but satisfied to

have come away with something to show for their efforts after

Tiote’s premature departure.

It took less than three minutes for an eagerly-anticipated

encounter to catch fire, although it did so in painful style for

the home fans.

Hatem Ben Arfa found space down the right and played the ball in

to Ba, whose shot from a tight angle was blocked by keeper Simon

Mignolet at his near post.

However, the Belgium international could only turn the ball into

the path of the fast-arriving Cabaye at the edge of the box and his

low drive was true and powerful and flew into the back of the net

to send the travelling fans behind the goal into delirious

celebrations.

Sunderland’s response was immediate and Mike Williamson had to

intervene to prevent Fletcher from reaching Sebastian Larsson’s

teasing right-wing cross four minutes later.

But for all the Black Cats were enjoying the greater share of

possession, they lacked penetration and Krul had to field Larsson’s

17th-minute free-kick, but little else.

O’Shea made an important block to keep out Ba’s volley seconds

later as Newcastle continued to pose the greater threat.

However, the game changed with 25 minutes gone when Newcastle’s

midfield enforcer Tiote was sent back to the dressing room after

careering into Fletcher.

Referee Martin Atkinson had already blown for a foul on the

Ivorian by Jack Colback, but his momentum carried him into the

Scotland international and as the home fans bayed for blood, the

official produced a red card, much to Tiote’s astonishment.

The visitors temporarily re-organised by dropping striker Ba

into a deeper role, but manager Alan Pardew eventually introduced

James Perch in an attempt to plug the gap with derby specialist

Shola Ameobi reluctantly making way.

In the meantime, Johnson had curled a left-foot effort high and

wide, and full-back Craig Gardner had smashed a 35th-minute

free-kick inches wide and seen another effort blocked by

Williamson’s backside.

But the Magpies might have increased their lead four minutes

before the break when Coloccini’s shot from a well-worked corner

was blocked and Ba acrobatically hooked the ball over the bar after

controlling the rebound.

Sunderland returned in determined mood and went close within two

minutes of the restart when Fletcher headed across goal from

another Larsson cross.

But Newcastle were refusing to sit back and Mignolet had to

pluck a deflected Ba shot out of the air after Cabaye had found him

25 yards out.

The home side were once again dominating possession, but a

succession of poor final balls let the visitors off the hook with

the locals growing increasingly restless.

Newcastle were defending deep and trying to hit their hosts on

the break, although as the clock ticked towards the hour-mark, the

traffic was largely one-way.

Coloccini deflected McClean’s 64th-minute shot wide seconds

before Martin O’Neill withdrew the ineffectual Sessegnon to send on

former Magpies striker Louis Saha with the temperature rising

inside the stadium.

The pressure was mounting all the time, but with Coloccini and

Williamson in commanding form at the back, Krul continued to enjoy

enviable protection.

Newcastle could have increased their lead nine minutes from time

when Cabaye and Ben Arfa staged a lightning break before the latter

fed Ba, whose shot was blocked by O’Shea.

Saha might have levelled seconds later, but fired into the

side-netting from McClean’s flick-on, but redemption was close at

hand.

O’Shea met Larsson’s deep free-kick with a header which hit Ba

and flew past Krul into the net to allow the home fans to breathe

again.

McClean and Gardner both went close in a late flurry, but

Newcastle saw out time to return to Tyneside the happier of the two

sides, but wondering what might have been.