Gary Rowell: Derby leveller so important

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AT the end of Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby, loads of people came up to me and said that we’d got out of jail.

I couldn’t disagree with any of them.

Yet the strange thing was, at half-time I was quite content.

Yes, it had been a scrappy opening 45 minutes, but I thought we’d just about edged it and I thought we would go up through the gears in the second half and probably go on to win the game.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Newcastle scored early and after that we were all over the place. It totally undermined us and we lost our way.

There was an edginess and an uncertainty about us and we kept opting for a long ball when the reality is we’re not a long-ball team. If you’ve got a Kenwyne Jones, or, in their case, a Sholoa Ameobi, you can play that long-ball game.

But our strikers thrive on balls to feet or down the channels to run on to, balls behind the defence and all the long ball game did was hand possession back to Newcastle.

We were totally thrown by it, the occasion got to us and we never really looked like hauling ourselves back into it.

But then came THAT equaliser, deep into stoppage time.

Forget the quality, feel the importance.

Because if you’re going to draw a game, that’s the way to do – with virtually the last kick of the game.

Newcastle would have felt as if they’d been mugged and it won’t have helped their morale.

Sunderland players would have been elated to have got out of jail – to have played so badly, yet still taken a point.

We would have lost that game a couple of years ago.

Back then, we couldn’t get anything from a match unless we played well.

But now we seem to have this knack of not playing well but still being difficult to beat and it’s made sure we took something from a game, protected our excellent home record.

It doesn’t disguise the fact we performed poorly on the day.

But Newcastle didn’t do the double over us when we were below par and we’ve got another point to add to our total – which is far better than the alternative scenario.

Read the full Rowell Report in tonight’s Echo.