“SUNDERLAND 2 Newcastle United 1”. As a scoreline with a certain resonance about it, it doesn’t look too bad, does it?
But as a result for Sunderland Football Club and its fans?
Yesterday’s win was a game-changer for the Black Cats on so many levels.
That it was a win was one thing. That it was a win in such dramatic circumstances, over their bitterest rivals, was another.
But as a launchpad for the Gus Poyet era, it could prove to be the defining momen,t as the Uruguayan went for a bold team selection and formation – a selection which would not have been the choice of the vast majority of fans – but which was fully vindicated by the final whistle.
In such a way can authority be gained.
It had been an exhausting eight games leading into the derby and the demoralising effect of taking just one point from those eight clashes was illustrated by the fact yesterday’s game was not a sell-out.
But fans will take huge heart from a victory over Newcastle which saw tens of thousands leaving the Stadium of Light on such a high, thanks to Fabio Borini’s fabulous late winner.
And the upshot is that hope is reborn among the faithful from a game which would have signalled Sunderland’s Premier League death knell had they lost it.
Only Southampton in the 1998-99 season have been in as perilous a position as Sunderland and somehow managed to survive.
Before this weekend, that felt like a freak achievement by the south coast side.
Now, Sunderland fans can hope it is genuinely an example to follow.
Club owner Ellis Short was absent from the game, although his programme notes spoke for him when he apologised for the Paolo Di Canio era.
There is more to apologise for here than the appointment of the Italian, who at least fulfilled his initial brief by keeping Sunderland up.
The oddball Di Canio might have proved to be one anchovy short of a full pizza but there are still questions to be answered about the worthiness of the Director of Football appointment, the influx of more and more Italian scouts and the summer transfer policy both in terms of who was allowed to leave and who was chosen to arrive.
But the American deserved credit at least for acknowledging that mistakes have been made, when other club owners in a similar position would not.
And with Poyet, it looks as though he has managed to bring in a head coach with good sense and pragmatism.
The Uruguayan looked as shell-shocked as anyone by his side’s 4-0 drubbing at Swansea in his first game in charge of Sunderland. But he has held his nerve this week and has helped his players do the same.
In doing so he has given Sunderland the merest glimmer of possible survival this season.
It is still a long shot. Even a win over Hull City this weekend will not budge Sunderland from second bottom in the Premier League.
But at least the victory, and the nature of it yesterday gives Black Cats’ supporters fresh interest in a season which looked all but lost.
It ups the ante ahead of this Saturday’s game and means that rarely can a game between the Black Cats and the Tigers have had such significance.
Hull boss Steve Bruce will play down the game in the build-up while reminding his players that a victory will push their opponents so much closer to the Championship.
Sunderland will be undaunted by that this week though after yesterday’s result. Having been on the road to nowhere, they now find themselves offered a path to salvation on the highway to Hull.