A FORTNIGHT AGO, Keiren Westwood trudged off the Liberty Stadium pitch shaking his head and fuming at Sunderland’s second-half collapse.
If it hadn’t been for Westwood, the margin of defeat at Swansea would have been far more severe than 4-0 after the Republic of Ireland stopper produced three stunning saves.
But when Sunderland returned to Premier League action last weekend, Westwood’s emotions were at the opposite end of the scale.
In his derby bow – after being an unused substitute for three of Sunderland’s four previous meetings with Newcastle – Westwood celebrated wildly after the Black Cats secured a first top-flight victory of the campaign.
Not even the denial of a first clean sheet of the campaign could dent Westwood’s mood, as Sunderland tasted back-to-back derby delight for the first time since 1967 and, more importantly, moved off the foot of the table.
Westwood told the Echo: “It was my first derby really. I’ve been here a couple of years, but that was the first one I’ve played in so I’m delighted to get a win.
“It’s a huge win for us for a host of reasons.
“It’s obviously against our biggest rivals and it’s always nice to win against them, but we needed a win anyway. At some point, it was going to come.
“After we conceded against Swansea the first time, heads dropped.
“And then there was a goal again two minutes later, it was the same.
“But we said, we’ve got to keep our confidence, we can’t carry on conceding.
“Everyone in the whole league is going to concede goals, it’s just how you respond to that.
“We showed a real desire with a real team effort against Newcastle.
“I can’t fault the lads who conceded the goal from not marking a man (Newcastle’s Mathieu Debuchy who equalised).
“It’s not even an issue.
“Adam (Johnson) said to me afterwards ‘sorry about that’ and I just said ‘what you on about?’.
“It’s all about the result.”
Westwood believes Gus Poyet’s side have now set the benchmark in their survival battle ahead of tomorrow’s trip to newly-promoted Hull City.
And while the goalkeeper remains grounded after the win against the Magpies, he admits that derby joy has given Sunderland’s previously drained players a huge boost mentally.
“It’s still early and we can’t really get carried away, but we’ve got to go to Hull and try to put on the same show,” added Westwood, signed by Tigers boss Steve Bruce on a Bosman in the summer of 2011.
“The Newcastle game is the minimum of what’s required now – working hard, ratting around, having shots, being solid.
“We’re not a bad side. I think we’ve shown in fits and starts that we aren’t bad – Man United in the first half and Swansea in the first half.
“But now we’re getting stronger, mentally tougher and fitter.”