DEJECTION was understandably the overriding emotion in the Sunderland dressing room at the final whistle after going so close to a derby triumph, writes Chris Young.
This had all the hallmarks of the glorious last victory on Tyneside, the gutsy rearguard action, even the stunning penalty save to evoke shades of Thomas Sorensen.
To see Shola Ameobi again prove to be Sunderland’s derby nemesis at the death was tough to take, especially after such a spirited defensive display in making light of the man disadvantage.
There will be plenty of “what ifs?”, not least the double chance for Seb Larsson and James McClean to make it 2-0, just before Stephane Sessegnon’s needless red card, albeit that prompted the most pathetic of reactions from Cheik Tiote.
But in the cold light of day tomorrow morning, there will be comfort for the Black Cats that they stood up to the derby test and coped with the pressure after three successive chokers against the neighbours.
If Sunderland supporters had been offered a point after Sessegnon was dismissed with 30 minutes to go, many would have grasped the opportunity, particularly after Newcastle piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
There was a reaction from the 4-0 rout at West Brom and there was certainly a concentrated effort to play the opposition and not the occasion, even if there were those moments of unnecessary ill-discipline – not least Lee Cattermole’s tackle after just 38 seconds.
It came at a cost, with both Cattermole and Sessegnon now both ruled out of the FA Cup quarter final at Everton.
But for the first time since Newcastle’s promotion to the Premier League, Sunderland emerged from the derby with the moral victory, if not the points to show for their efforts.
Full coverage on the drby battle in tomorrow’s Echo.