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Halftime: Sunderland 0, Newcastle United 1

Yohan Cabaye's early goal has Newcastle up at half, but a red card from Cheik Tiote has the visitors on their heels.

Stu Forster

Newcastle United lead Sunderland 1-0 in the Tyne-Wear Derby at the Stadium of Light thanks to a 2nd minute goal from Yohan Cabaye, a well-placed shot off a rebound. However, the story of the match so far has been the refereeing, as we might expect with Martin Atkinson taking the center of the pitch. Atkinson made his presence felt early, sending Cheik Tiote off following a reckless challenge that in most matches probably would have been a caution. It wasn't a terribly harsh decision, in my mind, but making a borderline call like that when you've already got a dodgy relationship with the club (see the Nigel De Jong decision) is no way to win friends and influence people.

In any case, Newcastle find themselves a man down, and have already made an adjustment by subbing in James Perch for Shola Ameobi, who has in fact not slain any mackems today. That Shola's dismissal was necessary was indicative of the type of play we saw from the Magpies following the decision. Ameobi had been booked for dissent, and it's a small wonder that Cabaye has not seen the same sort of discipline. The players will need to focus on the task at hand (as opposed to trying to do the referee's job for him) if they hope to make this scoreline a final.