Sunderland boss: Great moment ... and relief

BACK ON TERMS: Sunderland celebrate their equaliser
BACK ON TERMS: Sunderland celebrate their equaliser

SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill admitted his relief at his side’s late equaliser against Newcastle today.

He said: “Do you know what? When we equalised, it was one of the best moments, it really was, and to be accompanied by that noise ...

“There’s an element of relief, but every derby game I have ever been involved in either here or in Scotland, there has always been an element of relief.

“In the second half, sheer pressure alone probably yielded us the goal rather than anything flamboyantly brilliant.

“We got the goal and maybe had enough time them to go on and win it, but in the circumstances with Newcastle being down to 10 men and having defended so strongly, that would have been harsh.”

O’Neill condemned chants from Black Cats fans aimed at Newcastle defender Steven Taylor.

Taylor, who had infuriated the Wearsiders with comments yesterday including a suggestion that no Sunderland player would get into the Newcastle team, was targeted from the warm-up to the end of a tight encounter despite only playing the last 10 minutes as a substitute, and on at least two occasions, smiled at and applauded the home crowd.

However, there were repeated chants of, ‘Steven Taylor, we wish you were dead’ among other unsavoury offerings from both sets of fans, one from the away end referring to Jimmy Savile, and although both O’Neill and Magpies counterpart Alan Pardew insisted they had not heard them, the Ulsterman voiced his disappointment.

He said: “I didn’t know that. That would be poor, in very poor taste, if that’s the case.

“I would be disappointed to have heard that.”

Taylor, who was born in Greenwich, but raised on Tyneside, has been a target for Sunderland fans since winning the penalty from which Shola Ameobi snatched a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park in February 2009 after going down all too easily when challenged by Steed Malbranque.

O’Neill revealed he had not referred to the 26-year-old’s pre-match comments in his team talk, but admitted his players were well aware of what had been said.

He said: “It didn’t figure in my team talk, but some of the players had passed comment about it.

“He’s absolutely entitled to his opinion. I am delighted he made their bench.”