Gary Rowell: AJ catching fire in his hunger game

Adam Johnson
Adam Johnson
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THE BIG derby game didn’t disappoint (well not for Sunderland fans anyway) as the annual journey north ended in a third consecutive win at St James’s Park.

Sunderland’s victory might not have been as emphatic as the previous two, but the feeling afterwards was every bit as good.

A 90th minute winner, just when it looked like the game was going to end goalless, brought joy to Wearside and must have been a shattering blow to Newcastle fans, but I don’t think too many of the red and white faithful will lose much sleep over that.

Gus Poyet’s day got off to the worst possible start when Anthony Reveillere limped off in the warm-up, forcing the Sunderland head coach to hastily re-arrange his defensive set-up.

His decision to bring in Sebastian Coates meant Sunderland’s back four was entirely made-up of centre-backs, but the clean sheet vindicated Poyet’s decision.

Newcastle started the game as the better team, but once Sunderland rode the early storm they created more and better chances than their rivals.

Over the 90 minutes, Sunderland deserved the win.

Sunderland probably created more chances on Sunday than they have in the previous four or five games put together, and the only disappointment was that their finishing was wasteful and on another day that could have cost them.

Costel Pantilimon goes from strength to strength, producing another excellent performance with a couple of top-drawer saves and he deserved the clean sheet to his name.

But Adam Johnson’s goal was the highlight for Sunderland, following a move that he started himself and then finished.

What I particularly liked about the goal was that it came from a Newcastle corner and then, just seconds later, Sunderland had four or five men in the opposition box when Johnson fired home.

Being in the 90th minute, that showed great hunger and desire from Sunderland to win the game when it would have been easy to settle for a draw.