The pivotal moment in this match was without a doubt the red card shown to Cheik Tiote when he caught Steven Fletcher on the ankle with his studs. Newcastle had already gone up on a Yohan Cabaye rebound goal in the second minute, but the sending off no doubt put Sunderland on the front foot. The Toon held the hosts off for the majority of the match, but finally broke down when Demba Ba deflected a John O'Shea header into his net.
It's telling that the result is seen as a disappointment for the visiting team and a coup for the hosts, and it took Sunderland a long time to take advantage of their many free kicks, corners, and overall possession, even with the man advantage. In the end, they needed help from one of our own. But these are all meaningless platitudes. At the end of the day, it's dropped points against an inferior team (sorry, it's true) for a squad that are trying hard to gain traction in league play. One would have hoped that a long lay-off would have been enough to get their heads right, and it almost was.
But it wasn't. If Newcastle are to right the ship and climb the table like we believe they are capable of doing, they will need to do it now. They now enter an extended stretch of league matches against teams considered to be mid-table at best. If they don't obtain maximum points, that will be a descriptor attached to this squad before they even reach the #StretchOfDoom in December.
Newcastle next play Club Brugge in Europa League play at home on Thursday.